With Bridgestone opening its training centre at Horiba MIRA 12 months ago, CVW investigates the new offering and how it has impacted the tyre manufacturer.
For Bridgestone, opening the centre has transformed the company’s offering in the past year, with the following courses now being provided to its customers:
■ REACT Roadside Technician
■ React Roadside Technician Refresher
■ IRTEC – Tyre Assessments
■ Commercial Wheel Security
■ Consumer Train the Trainer
■ Specialist Wheel
■ Licenced Commercial Tyre Technician training and assessments (LCTT by the NTDA)
■ Maximising Sales in Retail Centres
■ Truck Tyre Knowledge
So, what makes Bridgestone training stand out?
Bridgestone has set its sights on doing the best it can to upskill the tyre industry as a whole, with the long-term aim of creating a sense of standardisation. This objective underpins its courses, qualifications and each presentation.
Training isn’t viewed as a box ticking exercise, but a core component of everyday working life at the business. Bridgestone’s REACT Roadside Technician course is an accreditation for the whole industry to benefit from. Since being created, 5,000 fitters have gained this licence, with 3,000 of them being delivered by Bridgestone.
The training scheme, headed up by IMI qualified Training and Development Manager, Paul Turner, covers a broad range of relevant, practical courses for its network of dealers. Bridgestone’s training provisions are flexible; minimizing disruption by providing a limited number of assessments in the workplace – in addition to the MIRA training centre.
Commenting on the company’s training provisions, Paul said, “Undoubtedly, skills should be made a top priority. Training and development isn’t viewed as a company obligation to Bridgestone, but an absolutely fundamental cornerstone of the business.”
The continuous development of staff is an intrinsic commitment from Bridgestone, which represents one of its four columns that supports its claim as being a ‘True Premium Player’.
Bridgestone vows to ‘attract, engage and develop people’. This pledge has already been firmly underlined in the past 12 months with the opening of its purpose-built facility at MIRA in Warwickshire.
Paul continued, “The significant investment is seen as a huge statement of intent as we offer a suite of practical courses which will be relevant when technicians are out on the road and tending to tyre related call-outs.
“This facility has been a game-changer for us, as we now have an easily accessible, dedicated centre in central England which offers the perfect environment for technicians to learn from.”
The centre has a custom-built trailer rig, which allows for a lot of hands-on wheel security courses, while more specialized topics such as locking rims, wheel flanges and tubeless tyres can all be covered on-site, too.
Continuing, Paul explained, “We want to deliver industry best practice; tyre industry education in a controlled environment where technicians attend practical or theoretical assessments in more than just a training centre. It is an experience, a day to remember.”
In 2016 and 2018, Bridgestone won the NTDA’s Staff Training & Development award, and in the past 12 months, the company became the first major tyre manufacturer to offer a new accreditation for professionals to benefit from – the Society of Operations Engineers’ (SOE) Commercial Tyre Technician Licence.
Training wins business
In one of Bridgestone’s greatest successes over the last 12 months, bus and coach operator Stagecoach announced a change of tyre supplier for the first time in 27 years with its appointment of Bridgestone UK for a five-year period. Taking on the 9,500- vehicle Stagecoach fleet was a huge coup for the business.
Bridgestone’s Commercial Sales Director, Greg Ward said, “We put together a compelling case to say we could do a better job. Our offer was based on products, people, training and an ability to actually do the job, rather than an argument based on price.”
The bus and coach segment isn’t Bridgestone’s sole strength. Greg added that Bridgestone was “ramping up on fleet business,” and this was witnessed in the second half of 2018 with the renewal of its strategic partnership with commercial vehicle rental and contract hire firm Ryder for a further three years.
Over the last two decades, Bridgestone has provided tyres and related service to the entire Ryder fleet. At present, it is responsible for approximately 25,000 tractor units, trailers, trucks and vans through its Bridgestone Partner Network. A Bridgestone representative is permanently based at Ryder’s national breakdown service call centre, and the company has provided extensive training to at least one employee at each Ryder location. The result is a 29% reduction in customer downtime due to worn-out tyres (compared to 2012 levels), as well as an 11% reduction in the number of tyres fitted since 2013 and 2018. Roadside call response times have also reduced by up to half an hour.
The idea that service and maintenance is a dirty job was a more prevalent opinion in years gone by, and Bridgestone believes that perceptions are only improving.
To attract new members of staff into the tyre industry, servicing needs to be seen as a career; a goal that training and qualifications go a long way towards achieving.
This is the underlying reason why Bridgestone has opened its training centre at MIRA. With the support of Rema Tip Top, the workshop is kitted out to deliver training for tyre fitting, roadside safety, tyre repairs, regrooving, manual handling and lifting, commercial wheel security, truck tyre inspection, and more, alongside classroom-based learning.