Putting plans in place now could reap big benefits come the fall.
I might not own a crystal ball, but I do have one prediction for the future: don’t be surprised if this fall brings the busiest winter tire season we’ve ever seen.
There are a few reasons to expect this. Pandemic panic may have caused some drivers not to swap out of their winter tires last spring, which means they may have more wear than usual after driving on them for a full summer. Others may have needed a new set last fall but put off the purchase because of pandemic-related financial issues. And then there are the urban customers who bought new cars for access to socially distanced transport but may not have bought winter tire packages to go with them.
This could all combine to create a perfect storm this fall, especially if we get cold October weather and the first real snowstorms are early to arrive, adding urgency into the equation.
How do you make sure your dealership is ready? Preparing for a successful winter tire season starts in the spring. In other words, to be ready for this fall, the time to start planning is right now.
As winter tires start coming off your customers’ vehicles, have your technicians look them over and set aside any sets with problems like bulging, slow leaks, and tread wear. Most drivers have learned that a tread depth of 2/32” is the point where all-season tires should be replaced, but it’s not as well-known that winter tires should be replaced when the tread depth goes below 6/32”. As a result, this is something your customers may not be on the lookout for themselves.
As problem sets are identified, assign a member of your staff to keep a whiteboard or spreadsheet to track information such as the customer’s name and contact information, vehicle model and year, the product name and the size of the set to be replaced, and the details of the issue. Attach a photograph if you can as this will be helpful later. Whether this falls to someone in the parts or service department isn’t as important as that it becomes the job of one person who cares enough to do it with attention to detail and a strong desire to help out your customers.
Notify your customers
Once the spring changeover season winds down, that person’s next job is to contact those customers to notify them of the issues your technicians identified and offer to order a replacement set so that it’s ready to go in the fall. It would be a good idea to send those photos to customers at this time so they can plainly see the issues for themselves. If your dealership uses tire quoting software, your staff can pull up some quotes in seconds and either talk customers through their options over the phone or send a quote by email with selections for varying budgets.
These probably aren’t the customers you want to charge a high margin. Consider offering them a competitive price as thanks for taking some of the strain out of your team’s workload come the fall.
More often than not, the customer will be grateful to be notified with plenty of notice and will accept the offer to take care of the replacement. You get the sale rather than letting it go to an aftermarket tire shop, and your customer gets great service and builds trust with your dealership. It’s a win-win scenario all around.
By the fall, vaccines will be well into their rollout across Canada, and people will be ready to get back into their vehicles and explore. Get ahead of the rush now by putting systems in place that will help you better serve your customers during this coming winter tire season and for many more years to come.
Andy Dalrymple is President and founder of QQuote which provides fast efficient tire and accessory quoting, sales and retention services for dealers. You can reach him at [email protected]