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Pay Me Now, or Pay Me Later?

Autosphere » Tires » Pay Me Now, or Pay Me Later?

When is a bird in the hand worth two in the bush? When those birds need steel wheels.

It’s fall, and you’ve got the chance to sell steel wheels to a client who may be already sold in theory, who knows that having rims for both their sets of tires extends tire life.

But what happens come spring when they decide they don’t need your installation services anymore and they can more economically make their seasonal swap themselves? It may not be the problem you think.

“Always take the bird in the hand, especially when the customer is there in person,” says John Williams, a partner in J.C. Williams Group Global Retail Advisors. “A big cost in retail marketing is getting people into the store. Once they come in for tires, sell them something in addition, such as storage, a deal on future tire rotations, or any add-on that is appropriate. That bird-in-the-hand opportunity may not come around again.”

Rick Callaghan owns auto repair shops in Stouffville and Beaverton, Ont., where he also buys through a wholesaler and retails tires to his customers. “Try to make that sale every time,” he agrees. “Although a few customers will do it themselves when it comes time to change to summer tires, for the most part, selling steel wheels now doesn’t affect whether people come back in the spring.”

Set the stage for spring

By using the slower winter season to keep your business top of mind, and promoting the hassle-free nature of paying you to do the dirty week, you can help ensure you’re on their minds come spring.

Market yourself to all your existing clients — follow up with everyone who has purchased tires and find out whether there’s another service they need, if not for the now-steel-clad vehicle, then perhaps for a family member’s or second vehicle.

Remind them that a professional seasonal switch is cheaper with their rims, an affordable convenience that can be a real stress-saver these days, when it seems like everyone is frantically busy all the time.

Winter is also a great time to run a contest or host an event; you can then use photos and captions to populate your social media feeds.

Sell ‘em on safety

Take the time to sell the benefits of professional service to your customers now, and reinforce those benefits closer to tire-swap time.

“Many cars, including most of the newer ones coming out, have tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), and the technician has to be able to work a scan tool, the device used to reprogram the tire pressure,” Callaghan says. “It’s not a DIY project. You hear of wheels coming loose while people are on the road, so it’s important that the technician does the due diligence necessary when installing wheels. Many of the problems today come with manufacturers using dissimilar alloys on the hubs.”

Callaghan also points out that when they have a car up on the hoist to switch tires seasonally, it’s a great opportunity for the technician to check over the car in general and catch deficiencies before they become problems.

To throw in another well-used metaphor, safety and convenience are a powerful duo you can use to make sure you get to have your cake now and eat it later too.

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october, 2021

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