The appearance of your company's prem ises is of utmost importance in today's highly competitive marketplace. The building and surrounding area are the first thing prospective customers see on entering your driveway and play a major role in their impression of your company.
The market for replacement passenger tires in particular is characterized by increasing competition among retailers and a growing number of female buyers motivated more by appearance and service than price.
There is no point in trying to make your dealership appear dynamic and efficient if it cannot offer fast, efficient service.
If, on the other hand, your company's image is one of providing good service, technical advice and a wide range of tires, it obviously is contradictory to maintain a pricing policy of being the cheapest in the market.
Service is part of your image and quality has its price. Moreover, the product offering the best value is not always the cheapest.
Do customers see more worn tire carcasses than new tires on display when they enter your driveway?
How accessible are your premises? Do they provide enough space for customers to park their cars?
Sometimes this is a difficult situation to correct. But if there is sufficient room, customer parking spaces should be well-marked and reserved only for customer use.
Make sure your customers have a pleasant place to wait while their cars are being serviced. No doubt such surroundings will help influence the customer's decision whether to return or not.
Above all, maintain clean restrooms and never forget that your service people are part of your product.
That leaves the retread shop for those dealers involved in the retreading process.
Fortunately, most tire-buying customers never see the inside of a retread plant. I have visited thousands and found far too many that were not only hot and noisy but dirty as well-which brings to mind several incidents I've experienced in the course of my travels:
Several years ago, for example, a New England retreader with a dingy, cluttered shop, stored drums of solvent in the buffing room. A fire broke out, and after it was brought under control, several firemen were discussing the situation when one of the drums suddenly exploded, injuring several firefighters in the process.
There was hell to pay, and all the other retreaders in that city had to pay it. They were ordered to install fire doors and cement block partitions; solvent would have to be stored outside with necessary licenses, and other incidental but costly precautions also were required.
Another cluttered, dirty shop was located on the upper floor of a two-story wooden building. As an employee was carrying a 5 gallon can of rubber solvent up the stairs, another person following below lit a cigarette. The flame followed the solvent fumes and the resulting fire destroyed most of the building.
Shop employees were stunned to discover that rubber solvent fumes were heavier than air.
The owner of still another shop was giving me a tour and showing off his modern, new production equipment when we stopped at a room used for cleaning whitewalls. The buffer was covered with white buffing dust which seemed everywhere. Mr. Owner, complaining about the dust, kicked at a pile and was shocked to find a couple of tires buried underneath. You can bet that room was cleaned in a hurry. I don't know if any more buried tires were found.
One southern U.S. shop really gave me a scare. Since the buffing area was quite large, it was used not only to store tires, but the cement sprayer also was located next to the buffer. Meanwhile, scarcely 10 feet away, was an auxiliary gas-fired boiler used to provide additional steam capacity when the shop was busy.
That shop was a prime candidate for a fire. My strong directive was to move the buffer and cement sprayer to a safer location and clean up the place. Today, that location is a vacant lot!
I recall a number of other owners who failed to clean up their shops until ordered to do so by the fire department. Some of those shops were destroyed by fires of ``undetermined'' or ``unknown origin.''
All were dirty, messy shops-some so cluttered that firefighters were unable to reach the center of the blaze until most of the building was destroyed.
I realize that you don't have a dirty shop and that what I'm saying probably applies to the other fellow's shop. Nevertheless, why don't you and your foreman take a tour of the facility in order to make sure it isn't a ``dirty shop.''
Dirty shops cost a great deal of money! They raise insurance premiums and increase the risk of fire. They keep shop employees unhappy and anxious to leave their dirty jobs. A dirty shop is not a good advertisement and produces dirty products.
The advantages of a clean shop, on the other hand, are many: lower insurance premiums, diminished fire hazard, more satisfied employees, prevention of accidents, a shop fit to show customers, higher quality products and the pride that goes with a job well-and cleanly-done.
Instead of crying: ``Business is bad, prices are too low and there's too much cut-throat competition,'' let's sell what we have-the cleanest place in town-at a better and more profitable price!