Change can be positive.
The tire industry has changed, and in some ways, for the better. That’s not to say COVID was a good thing, but we learned some harsh lessons. It exposed some weaknesses as well as some strengths.
People are recognizing change for what it is. Where they used to just accept processes and procedures as the status quo, they’ve realized there are other, better ways to do things.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to do training. When COVID came, we couldn’t do hands-on training. And everyone saw how much that affected their business. The book training is always good, but the hands-on training really drives it home. That’s the biggest portion of my training, the hands-on portion.
For example, the step-by-step procedures for lifting vehicles. It makes a big difference to have the trainer right there, explaining why it needs to be performed a certain way. The actual explanation, face-to-face, that’s what people need.
But you don’t need a pandemic to re-evaluate your processes and procedures. It’s something you should be doing, maybe at this time of year.
Take inventory shortages. We’ve all had to deal with it, from lack of tires to ordering service trucks. Remember when you could order a service truck in two months? Now it’s more like up to 18 months. That kind of delay can put your business behind. How are you going to deal with it?
Prices have gone way up. Before, shops could carry four brands of one size. But when you combine the price of materials and shipping, costs go through the roof. That alone is changing the way we do business.
Because of higher prices, smaller tire dealers are almost becoming like car dealers, where customers have to order tires. There’s less walk-in traffic. So now customers are ordering tires, possibly online, and then making an appointment to have them installed. That’s a big change.
Whether you’re buying or selling, vendors can help or hinder your business. Some shops have put in extra people just to find different vendors and shipping. In some cases, shipping costs more than the product they’re buying.
And it’s hard to track inventory levels. Where you once bought a certain brand of tire, now it’s not available. People are switching brands because they just can’t get what they had before, which is unusual in the tire world.
You already know how important tooling is. Many people have discovered that in other provinces, they use different tools. They’ve had to re-evaluate their entire system to ensure it’s consistent and they’re getting what they need. Again, they’ve had to look at different vendors to get equipment like the proper PPE.
There’s also been a significant increase in electric vehicles, where TPMS works differently. The sensors have other ways of talking to the vehicle. Again, you need to update everyone and everything to keep up with your customers’ needs – because that’s a new reality.
But even with change and restructuring, you can make it a positive experience. Our industry is solid because our leadership is strong. In the face of re-evaluating and retraining, your business is bound to get better as everyone adapts.