Industry pundits generally agree that in order for independent tire dealerships to survive against the low-price strategy of large, retail competitors they need to offer exceptional customer service. But as a recent anonymous shopping survey of several independent dealerships near Deerfield, Ill., found-dealers still have room for improvement in this area.
Granted, the survey was small-only six dealerships were shopped.
But the results show that while the six dealerships fared well overall, they generally were lacking in their people skills-just the area where independent tire dealerships need to shine if they intend to attract and retain customers.
The MysteryBuyer survey, conducted for TIRE BUSINESS by Western Diversified, an insurance company, is clearly too small to draw any hard and fast conclusions. But dealers would be shortsighted in not taking the cue to examine their own locations to see how they would fare under such scrutiny.
As Rob Mancuso, vice president of Western Diversified, said of the survey's results: ``It's not a litany of things done wrong, it's a litany of opportunities missed.''
And dealers can't afford to lose much business and still expect to remain profitable.
Dealerships, the survey results suggest, could improve customer satisfaction and sales penetration through better communication with customers beginning at the point of greeting. Not introducing yourself is a huge mistake, Mr. Mancuso noted.
Dealerships also can improve the way they handle customers when writing up the service order and by paying more attention to customer satisfaction at the time the bill is paid, the survey showed.
These are not difficult tasks to address for a dealership, or any business for that matter. The cost involved is low, but the potential results can catapult a dealership ahead of the competition.
Still, as Mr. Mancuso put it: ``It takes someone in that facility to stand up and say, `You know, damn it, I'm not going to stand around and be average.' ''