It seems to me that independent tire dealers waste an enormous sum of money each year in advertising, only to chase the prospect away on the first visit. What a terrible waste! Let's get one thing straight.*.*.the only purpose of any type of advertising is to create a visit to your store! Are you sure that is what you want? Are you ready for that visit? First impressions are everything! What will your prospect perceive when she calls or walks in the door of your outlet?
Please do not advertise until you are convinced your outlet and staff are presenting the image of your business that you want customers to perceive.
Before retailing's ``Big Boys'' spent one nickel on advertising, you can bet they felt ready for the customer's visit! The staff underwent extensive training. Their display area made the statement they wanted it to make. They had a system in place and their sales staff knew that system backwards and forwards.
I am quite sure they decided to keep their restrooms spotless and the waiting areas clean and comfortable well in advance.
Here are Five Steps in Preparing For the (customer's) Visit!''
1) Deep and consistent cleaning: Take the time, money and effort to deep clean your whole store. Remodel if you see the need. But primarily scrub, paint and unclutter your store.
Invite an outsider (preferably a woman) to tell what needs to be done. You won't be able to see it! Once the store is clean, set a policy to maintain it daily, weekly, monthly and annually!
Create a clean, comfortable waiting area and stock it with current unisex publications, a daily newspaper, Newsweek, People, Money magazines etc. Paint your entire service area.
2) Set up an inventory and display area: Determine who your customer is demographically and select your product offerings and displays to meet the needs of that customer. If you don't know what your customer looks like, ask the help of a supplier, Chamber of Commerce or a friend who visits your store often.
Inventory primarily the lines you want to sell and can make a decent margin on. Have ready access to as many brands as possible, but do everything in your power to sell the customer on your brand. You are the one who must live with the product.
Don't try to be all things to all people. Have at most a ``good, better, best,'' and ``ultra premium'' offering.
Strive to turn your inventory at least four times per year. Clear out slow-moving inventory. Ask your suppliers to do inventory adjustments etc.
3) Develop your plan: Take time on a regular basis to shop your competitors. Learn everything possible about the products and services they offer, their add-on sales policies and, most importantly, their pricing structure.
Don't rely on hearsay. Get information firsthand. Look for areas of weakness-places where your business can gain an edge.
Develop your unique marketing niche.*.*.look for unique things about your store that your competitors don't offer.
Do customers have needs that are not being met? Could extra special warranty policies be of benefit? Shuttle service? Loaner cars? Local ownership etc.
Once you find these unique areas of opportunity, tell everyone about them!
4) Create a system and train everyone: Learn the Five Steps To the Tire Sale backwards and forwards (TB April 1, 1996 issue). Practice your closing technique.
Inform your entire staff about which products offer you the most profit and why. Teach them how to sell these higher-margin products.
Show everyone how to read and use tire fitment charts and other necessary material.
Establish a ``nobody-walks'' policy and train staff members to assist each other in closing the sale. Use trade-in allowances to close a sale without dropping your tire price. Train your staff to listen to the customer.
5) Manage the telephone: Make it clear to staff members that each caller is to be treated as a prospective customer and not an interruption.
Attend a seminar on how to handle your telephones, then telephone shop your competitors on a regular basis. Record your competitors and play the call back in a meeting and critique them.
Determine how you will answer the telephone and the best ways to encourage customers to visit your store. Learn the Five Steps to the Telephone Call and decide how to adapt them to your outlet.