What your customers need to know
It’s been a tough year across the board for consumers and businesses, and there are still unanswered questions about how the pandemic will continue to affect things. But through it all, tires and tire stores have remained essential – as is the need to get your products across to your customers.
“We didn’t know the impact on the industry, and we looked at the 2008-2009 recession to try to understand it,” said Will Robbins, Senior Product Manager, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations. “As far as we can tell, it’s the same. We saw demand drop off earlier in the year, but we’ve seen it come back, and not like the economic hit we took in 2010. We’re seeing similar trends (as before), with a strong focus on value.”
Clear messages are key
Dealers need to question their customers about their driving habits, but Robbins said there’s also an onus on manufacturers to ensure they’re developing clear messages on technology to pass along. “We probably have thirty seconds at the dealership to explain the product, and the technology must be relatable to the customer.
“It needs to be a simple message. If we’re talking about full-depth features, show a worn tire and a new tire. They can see it, touch it, and understand. It’s about making the process as easy as possible, and ensuring the customer is going to get the features and benefits we say they will get. The wear warranty is a way to differentiate it, so if you know how many miles they drive, you’ll be able to tell them how long a tire should last.”
Show them what you mean
“While both compound and pattern technologies have improved considerably in the last while, only one is easy to demonstrate to your customer. “For the compound, you have to trust me that this is going to work,” Robbins said. “But if the customer can see that this groove goes all the way down, they can look at it, and understand it.”
All-weather vs. all-season
Some customers may still be unfamiliar with all-weather tires but they may be the perfect option for some, according to Greg Cressman, Director, Technical Services at Yokohama Tire Canada. “Over the years, the all-season market has evolved,” he said. “Long mileage, quiet rides, and good non-winter handling became more of a requirement, and the winter weather capability of typical all-season tires dropped off as a consequence.
“The convenience they offer…with one set of tires all year round is very significant to some users, but they are a compromise solution. The key is to understand the true needs of the consumer. If the discussion involves the potential for driving in true winter conditions, the severity of the driving conditions has to be determined.”If a customer has one vehicle and it’s being used in severe conditions, a dedicated winter tire will be the safest, Cressman said. But if your customer has another vehicle with winter tires, or access to public transit, or even the option of staying home in bad weather, “then all-seasons or all-weathers can be considered,” he said.