Posted: June 17, 2016
Understanding The Needs Of Towing And Work-Truck CustomersBy Dan Sanchez
Most truck accessory retailers and restylers realize many of their towing customers are also work-truck customers. Contractors and work-truck fleet vehicles often tow and carry heavy gear in the vehicle’s bed. That’s why many retailers believe that having a good knowledge of a variety of the most popular products for these applications, and knowing how they benefit your towing and work-truck customers, can be a great source of revenue if you know which products to push.
While many trucks already come with a hitch and receiver, it’s important for retailers to carry an abundance of towing accessories. Often some of the first things that contractors and recreational haulers will need are items like wiring kits, hitch-balls, hitch pins, locks and more.
For heavy-duty work trucks, however, that haul trailers with small loaders or compact excavators on top, manufacturers like Curt MFG recommends making sure you have a good supply of products such as Pintles and Pintle mounts, heavy-duty two-inch and 2 1/2-inch ball mounts, extra long hitch pins, reducer sleeves, and shank trailer balls with more than a 15k rating. “Most heavy duty towing has shifted to 2-1/2-inch products,” says Shane McNallie, VP of Retail Sales at Curt MFG. “Many retailers, however, still do not have the parts to accommodate this change. Forged items have also become the standard for heavy-duty towing as is used in Pintle products and mounts. So it’s a good idea to have these around too.”
One of the dangers that McNallie sees many truck accessory retailers make is trying to get customers into smaller hitches in order to sell the parts they have in stock. “The most common mistake is selling a customer an adapter that goes from a 2-1/2-inch down to a two-inch,” says McNallie. “Doing this compromises the weight ratings of a commercial grade truck and potentially increases the possibility of an overweight scenario.”
To combat this, Curt MFG offers a product called the One Mount. “This product allows for easy height adjustment along with multiple towing solutions to change between a Pintle, and/or regular hitch-balls of different sizes,” says McNallie. “Curt also offers a lock-set to go with the product to protect your customer’s investment.”
Unfortunately in many situations, hauling heavier loads often means that fleet owners are sometimes reluctant to purchase higher-rated hitches for their existing vehicles. This is one of the reasons why Alex Walker, Sales Manager at Blue Ox, recommends offering weight distribution systems to those customers hauling heavier loads. “Weight distribution systems are very important when pulling heavily weighted trailers,” he says. “These systems help to distribute the weight evenly between the towing vehicle and the trailer. This decreases wear and tear on the towing vehicle and allows for less stress on the hitch receiver, as well as a smoother ride. Products like the Blue Ox Sway Pro not only distributes the weight, but it also prevents sway of the vehicle before it even starts, which is always a concern.”
Covering The Essentials
Most truck accessory retailers and restylers already carry several lines of truck caps, but it’s also important to know which features work-truck owners and fleets are constantly looking for. Truck cap manufacturers agree that there are some common ones that retailers and restylers should be aware of. “Good functionality like 60/40 full-length doors, large side door openings, good lighting, and a lightweight design are common features fleet owners are looking for,” said Hartmut Schroeder, CEO of SnugTop. “Fleet owners are typically looking for a lower cost of ownership so lighter weight tops can provide improved interior organization with better fuel economy than heavy duty cargo vans.”
Aside from larger openings that make reaching and pulling out cargo easier, accessories are often overlooked and should also be introduced to the customer. “Being able to provide necessary options such as tool boxes and lighting is important to work-truck and towing customers,” says Jose Reyna, National Fleet & Commercial manager for A.R.E.. “On many of our commercial cap lines, we offer Rigid Industries LED lighting options for illuminating the job areas. It’s also important to think about other accessories such as ladder racks, locks, and more.”
Locking Up Sales
Security is another feature that benefits both the truck owner who tows a heavy trailer and the work-truck/feet owner. Because much of the cargo carried in the truck bed must be secured in either of these situations, retailers should be aware of the various methods truck cap manufacturers use to improve security. “Security is the biggest concern for any commercial worker that uses A.R.E. truck products,” says Jose Reyna, National Fleet & Commercial manager for A.R.E.. “We offer multiple levels of security for our customer base. Some are light-duty, for those looking for something basic, or heavy-duty fiberglass and metal for those who want maximum security levels from their truck cap.”
“Security starts with the materials from which the cap is made. That’s why LEER uses only superior-quality materials in the construction of its caps, deterring brute force break-ins,” says John Stethem, VP Sales Marketing Leer. “LEER offers caps with solid sides and security
screens to help keep valuable cargo out of site and protected. We also use the highest-quality locking mechanisms available to keep items safe and secure. Stainless steel Drop-T handles with weather-resistant, one-key technology BOLT Locks deliver both convenience and security with the highest corrosion resistance rating on the market, and are nearly impossible to pick.”
Light Or Heavy?
Because the bottom line is always important to someone towing a recreational vehicle, as well as a work-truck owner, products that can help improve fuel economy are also a revenue source for retailers and restylers. When it comes to truck caps, many manufacturers design lighter units that can reduce weight to save on fuel costs. “Our research has proven that light work-truck caps improve pay load capacity, add less wear on truck components, and improve fuel economy,” says Schroeder. “Fiberglass tops can be as tough as steel, but weight up to 40 percent lighter. It’s also resistant to environmental extremes and is resistant to corrosion when exposed to extreme temperatures.”
Truck cap manufacturers realize that not everyone want’s a light truck cap. There are some advantages to products built with heavier materials. “When it comes to work trucks, a lightweight cover may be the right solution for only some uses,” says Stethem. “Lighter cap options can provide increased payload, while heavier caps deliver added security and durability. That’s why LEER has developed an expansive product line, with an option that is right for each work truck and the job it’s designed to do.”
While towing and truck cap manufacturers can provide their best suggestions for optimizing your inventory to maximize sales on major purchases, there are a variety of other accessories that can also provide excellent revenue sources that can help your towing and work-truck customers get the most out of their vehicles.