Thank you for publishing the headline correction in the Dec. 20 issue about my seminar at the recent SEMA Show. That headline, which appeared in your Nov. 22 issue, unintentionally could have been misleading.
I did not suggest tire dealers should focus less on tires and more on vehicle maintenance, as the headline stated. Instead, my point was that tire dealers should focus more on vehicle maintenance, in addition to tires, to improve their dealerships' profits.
At Automotive Training Institute (ATI), we teach our clients to focus on maintenance and tires equally. Many times focusing on maintaining a vehicle completely will actually increase tire sales. When we saw the original headline we were shocked.
ATI teaches that tire dealers need to focus more on tires to drive up their car count and open the door to profitable maintenance services.
One of the major problems facing today's independent repair shop is declining car count. In the 1980s, there was an average of 110 problems per 100 cars built during the warranty period. Today, there are less than 35 problems per 100 cars built even though the warranty is now three times longer. Our clients who do a good job marketing tires have no car count problems.
Every shop has two types of people walking through the door: customers and clients. A customer is someone who gives you money in exchange for products and services. A client is someone who brings you all their business: tires, repairs, service and maintenance.
The goal of the first visit is to convert the customer into a client. Every shop needs to meet new customers. There are two common ways to drive new customers to your shop: low-price oil changes and tires.
Low-price oil changes are rarely profitable. But the goal of this service is to meet this new customer, perform a courtesy check on their vehicle, offer them additional services and convert them into a client.
In many cases, the profit you make from the first visit barely offsets the marketing cost of getting the customer to your shop. It's a lose/win proposition. You lose on the first visit, but hopefully gain a client and win long term.
On the other hand, driving new customers into your shop with tires is a win/win proposition. You make substantial profits on their first visit, with the tires and alignment sale, gain a new client, and then make additional profits servicing their vehicle on future visits, a win/win for everyone!
The Tire Industry Association (TIA) asked ATI to design a special tire information data portal to help tire dealers make more money focusing on tires and related sales. TIA members can track their tire sales and gross profit performance daily.
ATI recommends independent shops become more tire focused. ATI teaches service managers to check the tires with every customer visit. Our 30 point courtesy check has tires at top of the list.
Selling tires is a great way to add profits to your bottom line, and caring for tires opens the doors for other services including alignment, suspension and steering system repairs.
Tire rotation brings your customer back every 6,000 miles. And servicing their tires give you the opportunity to inspect the vehicle and offer additional profitable services.
Focusing on tires and maintenance will help ensure tire dealers will flourish today and in the future.
Chris ``Chubby'' Frederick
Automotive Training Institute