Steve Akridge, executive director of the Virginia Automotive Association, brings up a good point regarding tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) and run-flat tires.
In a story in this issue, he suggests dealers add up the costs of training and special equipment needed to service TPMS and run-flats, both of which are becoming more common in dealers' service bays. They then should consider raising prices to cover the added costs of this more complicated service work.
Many dealers, he surmised, probably haven't given this much thought. He's no doubt right.
They likely are more focused on getting their employees trained and shops equipped to handle these new service issues-not on whether to charge for them.
To his point that shops consider raising prices to cover these added costs-we say don't just think about it. Do it.
Dealers must put a value on these services from the start. If they don't, their customers won't have any reason to appreciate why TPMS work or why mounting and demounting run-flat tires is any different than servicing tires without these features.
And dealers will forfeit a wonderful opportunity to generate additional revenue streams for their dealerships.
Don't think this can happen? Just consider how many shops offer free tire rotations, which take up valuable bay space and technician time.
Dealing with run-flat tires and TPMS requires more technician knowledge and expertise than tires without these offerings.
They also take more time to service. By some estimates, TPMS can add 15 minutes to a tire change, while changing a set of run-flats may take up to an hour.
Servicing tires equipped with pressure monitors also presents additional risk. Break a sensor in a valve stem and it could cost a dealership as much as $150 for the part alone.
For all of these reasons, dealers should expect to be remunerated for their work and should not look to give it away as a value-added offering.
Some dealers already are charging more.
Steve Craven, owner of Craven Tire & Auto in Fairfax, Va., charges $5 per TPMS wheel to rotate and recalibrate the TPMS sensors and $7.95 per wheel to change the grommets.
Why leave this money on the table?
Clearly, dealers must assess their own cost structure and competitive situation to decide if and what to charge for TPMS and run-flat tire service.
They should charge something. It's good for their business and it sends a message to their customers that the professional services they offer are valuable and not just something customers should expect for free.