More and more customers are asking tire centres to store their wheels. How to do it properly?
Martin Dépelteau, President of Martins Industries, a Quebec company specializing in tire storage equipment, advises from the outset not to offer the service of storing customers’ tires if the company is not well organized to do so.
“During peak periods, some centres won’t find customers’ wheels or will take a lot of time to find them,” he says. “And that’s not to mention the poor storage conditions where you still see wheels dangerously stacked or tires thrown in piles. Storing customer tires, contrary to popular belief, is not a simple matter.” He says a tire centre should outsource storage operations to a trusted subcontractor if it can’t do it properly.
For those who wish to be self-sufficient, he recommends having experts analyze the premises that are or will be used for this storage to see, first, if the location is adequate. This expert advice can also help the manager optimize the space.
“For example, the aisles are the biggest problem with space in a warehouse,” he says. “If you install two depths of shelving, you can store one set of wheels, two at the front and two at the back, which doubles the storage space.” He also emphasizes the simple rule of placing the heaviest wheels on the lowest supports for easy handling. He says that if the shelf reaches four or five levels, consider using a forklift. “The wheels that are mounted are made so big and heavy that they can’t be picked up by hand at height,” he says.
To avoid breakage, he recommends placing the tires on the tread. This reduces the risk of damage to the rims, and since storage is only seasonal, this method will not affect the shape of the tire.
A necessary wash
According to Dépelteau, all tire centres should wash customer wheels before storage. The customer will be happy to find wheels that are clean at the change of season, but this practice also has advantages for the company. “Customers often complain about wheels that are damaged in storage. A dated photo in the customer’s file prior to storage easily ends the conversation.”
At Pneus Ratté, wheel washing is also a common practice. This is done to please the customer, but also to remove any traces of abrasives or corrosives that could damage the tires and rims during storage.
Since many customers request storage of their wheels between seasons, we have to make sure that we do it in the best possible conditions,” explains Charlyne Ratté, Vice-President and Co-Owner of Pneus Ratté. “We manage our own warehouses and have set up a tracking system based on the recurrence of our customers. Thus, each customer has its own location where we reposition the wheels during changeover periods.”
This group has 18 sales outlets, including 11 dedicated to light vehicles. The company ensures that the wheels entrusted by customers are stored in optimal conditions.
“The worst enemy is the sun, so our warehouses have no windows. We also make sure that the air in our premises is dry. Moisture would be bad for the rims, especially steel wheels, which would rust during storage.”
The premises, where the wheels are resting, are secured. Sprinklers prevent fire damage and everything is protected by an alarm system to prevent theft.
A retention tool
“Tire storage is a great retention tool for our customers. They trust us with their wheels, which often reach a high value. We have to take good care of them,” she summarizes.
“Here, as in many other tire centres, a fee is charged for storage. It’s a service provided to consumers,” says Martin Dépelteau. It’s a service that’s provided to consumers,” says Martin Dépelteau. “They appreciate it and more and more people are taking advantage of it. It’s normal to get paid for this service. I don’t understand the tire centres that do it for free.”