Buying a fire truck is a journey, one that involves research, planning and experiencing new technology and opportunities. The relationship you build with your fire truck manufacturer and the journey you embark upon together doesn’t just end with your new apparatus delivery; it lasts 20+ years through the life of your fire apparatus.
At Pierce Manufacturing, we value each department’s unique journey and take the time to provide everything they need to make the right choice for their communities. The Customer Experience Department at Pierce plays a significant role in managing new and existing customer relationships.
Below, learn more about the fire truck buying journey with the Pierce team at the helm.
What Is the Customer Experience Department?
More than 30 years ago, the Customer Experience Department was established by the President of Pierce to make customers feel at home and to allow them to understand and become ingrained in the Pierce culture from the inside.
A culture focused on attention to detail, quality, workmanship and dependability, is more than just words on paper; it can be experienced and felt in every square inch of Pierce’s corporate headquarters, final assembly and customer acceptance.
When you arrive on-site at Pierce Manufacturing, you’ll meet a member of the Customer Experience Department. Members of the Customer Experience Department are tasked with helping visitors and customers find the help they need. Whether you are a fire chief or city administrator ready to learn about an apparatus purchase, or an established customer in town for a visit, the experienced and friendly customer experience team members will assist you.
Bringing customers on-site and talking them through a tour of the facilities is an immersive experience that allows customers the opportunity to see, touch, feel and understand every component that goes into the creation of a fire truck.
Purchasing a fire apparatus is an investment that significantly impacts the daily operations of both firefighters and the communities they serve. When customers visit Pierce and talk to employees as they fabricate, weld and assemble apparatus, they can see the people behind the product and see the passion Pierce employees have for both quality and safety.
Customer Visit Opportunities
The Customer Experience Department manages the flow of customers through Pierce facilities through three important phases in the fire truck buying process: discovery, approval and final inspection.
Fire Truck Discovery and Research
When a fire department is in the market for a new apparatus, a committee will typically begin their search by completing research and learning what new options and technology are available in the marketplace. Taking the time to visit fire truck manufacturers is often a step in this discovery process.
“At Pierce, our goal is to show prospective customers who we are, how we do things and impress upon them the value of what we do,” said Jeff Seidner, Senior Manager, Customer Experience Department. “We encourage them to explore our product, our processes, and kick the tires—quite literally sometimes—so they understand the quality behind every piece, part and system component.”
During an initial visit, prospective and current customers tour Pierce facilities to discover and discuss the types of apparatus that may be of interest. They have the option to tour one or all of the four physical buildings in Appleton, Wisconsin, including the:
- Corporate headquarters.
- Assembly and fabrication facility.
- Parts distribution center.
- Aerial assembly building.
An additional facility in Kewaunee, Wisconsin, builds all of the ladders and can be toured upon request. Interested customers may also visit and tour the Clearwater and Bradenton, Florida, facilities.
During these tours, it’s not unusual for Pierce employees to stop what they are doing and talk directly with visitors, learning more about the customer’s needs and talking through the details of their job.
Meetings are arranged with Pierce personnel to answer questions and demonstrate the breadth of product options available. Meals are arranged at local establishments by the Pierce staff and quite often, fire departments from different parts of North America are brought together over dinner or a prearranged outing to talk and learn about one another.
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Typically, a handful of fire department representatives or members of the fire truck purchase committee will attend the initial discovery meeting. The number of participants is often a reflection of the size of the fire department. In addition, a member of the sales or dealership team often accompanies the fire department representatives to gain a full understanding of their needs and purchase goals.
The initial visit is scheduled for one and one-half (1.5) to two (2) full working days.
Fire Truck Approval Visit
An approval or pre-construction visit is a dedicated time for fire department and dealership representatives and members of the Pierce team to collectively review and refine the purchase order. This visit allows customers to talk through each element of the order and be involved in finalizing the truck design.
“The approval visit involves a lot of detailed work, but we always try to schedule in a little fun as well,” said Jeff. “Whether we take a trip to Lambeau Field, a local eatery for a round of Number 90 Red, or experience all that the Appleton area has to offer, we enjoy spending time with our customers and want to make sure they have a great experience all around.”
The pre-construction visit typically includes reviewing the sales drawings and layout to finalize the fire truck features, including a review of paint codes, major components, and system requirements, noting any required changes. Customers ask questions, learn more about the manufacturing and detailed engineering process and tour facilities if they have not yet done so.
In addition, the approval visit is also focused on discussing fire truck graphics. Customers learn about materials selection, like vinyl and gold-leaf, and review graphic selection options, including reflective striping, lettering, roof numbers, and aerial boom graphics.
The approval visit is an opportunity for customers to be a part of the final design details of their fire truck order and ensure they feel complete confidence in the order process.
In most circumstances, the same team that attended the initial discovery meeting and tour will also attend the pre-construction visit.
The approval visit is scheduled to last two (2) full working days. Participants often arrive the day before the visit to get settled and prepared for the busy workdays ahead.
The final visit for customers is the final inspection. The final inspection provides fire department representatives with the opportunity to inspect their fire trucks and test system components, as required.
“When customers come for the final inspection, the excitement is almost tangible,” stated Jeff. “The team at Pierce is proud of the work we’ve completed and the customers can’t wait to see and feel every inch of their new apparatus.”
During the final inspection visit, customers see and touch their new apparatus for the first time. They take the order and options-list and go through each item, verifying all items and reviewing their satisfaction with each truck area.
Using an innovative computerized reporting system called e-pickup, the customer documents any items they find that do not meet their expectations. They also mark any required adjustments with blue tape on the truck itself. Once these items have been documented, all parties review the list together so that everyone understands what needs to be altered.
Once the customer has inspected the truck in detail, the Pierce team reviews the e-pickup tool modification requests and completes a walk-around to review the marked blue tape areas of the fire truck. The truck is transported back into a manufacturing bay and all final adjustments are made. Each modification is documented and photographed to show the customer all adjustments have been completed.
The final inspection includes the fire department representatives, the dealer and members of the Pierce team.
The final inspection typically lasts 1.5 to 2 full working days.
Choosing a fire truck manufacturer is a challenging task that requires extensive research and a great deal of time. If you are currently reviewing manufacturers, the Customer Experience Department at Pierce encourages you to schedule a visit with your dealer.
A fire truck is an investment, and learning everything you can about a number of manufacturers can help you make the best decision for your fire department. The team at Pierce welcomes all visitors and encourages fire departments to make the trip to Appleton, Wisconsin. A round of Number 90 Red is on us!
Contact your local dealer now to arrange your first visit.
If you’ve visited Pierce before, what was your favorite part? What did you learn? Share your experience with others below.