Wilson Puckett, president of Wabash Waste Management, had a stack of proposals on his desk from several truck companies. Two of the companies, Roper and Rollins, offered trucks on a lease basis, while three dealers wanted Wabash to buy their trucks. In the past Wabash always purchased their trucks. Which proposal would be best, he wondered as he picked up the proposals for the third or fourth time.
Wabash Waste Management is an industrial waste recycling company. It picks up grease and oil from several manufacturing facilities in the region, cleans the waste and oil, and then sells it to a company that packages the material for resale. Wabash also picks up frying grease from restaurants for recycling. The company is about to enter a new regional market, and needed four new trucks to pick up the used grease and oil.
The trucks were tank trucks with a pump that pumped the grease or oil from a holding tank at the restaurant or manufacturing plant. Darnell Gates, fleet manager, wanted Puckett to choose the Hauler 2000, a tank truck with a McLaren pump capable of pumping 50 gallons in about five minutes. It has a capacity of 5,000 gallons. The truck is rated at 10 miles per gallon of gasoline and has one of the better maintenance records of all the trucks. The Hauler 2000 is one of the trucks for sale, but could be leased through Wabash’s bank.
On the other hand, Betty Roberts, vice-president of finance, has been pushing the Roper offering, a Fleetwood truck that pumps fifty gallons in ten minutes. The Fleetwood holds 4,800 gallons of grease or oil, and the truck gets twelve miles to the gallon. The lease option on the Fleetwood is the most attractive of all the proposals according to Roberts. In addition, by leasing through Roper, the company does not use any of its line of credit from the bank, keeping that free for some other needed purchases. The company has operated close to the edge and needs to fill some excess capacity in order to make enough profit.
Gates told Puckett that the Fleetwood is too slow and would lead to at least three fewer pickups per day by each truck. Three drivers have also told Puckett that the Fleetwood is a deathtrap with a bad safety record. These drivers told Puckett that the current fleet will need at least two trucks replaced in the next year. The maintenance manager, however, thinks the company could get by with replacing only one truck and he also likes working on the Fleetwood better than the Hauler 2000.
- What type of buying situation is this, a new task buy, straight re-buy or modified rebuy?
- How did problem recognition occur in this case?
- List the buying center role(s) each person is playing in this situation: Darnell Gates, Betty Roberts, Wilson Puckett, the maintenance manager and the drivers. Who do you think is the most important other than Puckett, and why?
- Discuss risk (what each person is most concerned with) from the perspective of each member of the buying center. Discuss how the tank truck firms could reduce risk (address the concerns) for each member.
- Assume this buying center is an accurate portrayal of the average buying center for tank trucks? How would this information influence the emphasis of your sales presentations to each individual?
Source: F. Robert Dwyer and John F. Tanner, Jr., Business Marketing Connecting Strategies, Relationships, and Learning (Burr Ridge, IL: Richard D. Irwin, 1999), p.111-2.