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Published on July 31, 2007

Service writers make a difference

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Opinion

AKRON (July 30, 2007) — Sure, the replacement tire market is getting tougher, with more competitors, including car dealerships, vying for tire sales. But the future for independent tire dealers in automotive repair and maintenance looks bright, according to a recent study.


Tire retailers and repair chains should see revenue from automotive repair and maintenance increase by about 8.2 percent annually between 2005 and 2015 to $12.4 billion, the study by Cleveland-based Freedonia Group Inc. predicted. Market share is expected to climb to nearly 10 percent from 8 percent.


But while forecasts like these are nice, individual tire dealerships still have to do their part if they expect to grab their share of this anticipated increase in business. That means being at the top of their game to maximize every service opportunity that comes into their service bays.


Several stories in this issue point out how service writers can make or break a business.


As one service shop owner put it: “If the person at the front desk doesn't have strong people skills, the business has issues.”


While it's always been important for tire dealerships to have personable and knowledgeable personnel at the service counter, this position is becoming more critical as auto service becomes a greater part of the typical dealership's sales mix.


There's more required of the service writer in a dealership that offers automotive service than in one that focuses on tires and tire-related services alone.


Those working at the service counter not only have to communicate effectively with customers, but they also control the shop's workflow and deal directly with the tire and automotive technicians.


Of utmost importance, according to several shop owners, is this person needs good communication and listening skills. They say this is even more crucial than having a strong technical background.


Take the issue of servicing tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), as an example. Many tire dealerships have begun charging for this work.


This means that tire customers who had become used to getting their tires rotated and balanced for free now may face charges upwards of $100 ($25 per tire) in some cases for what they are likely to view as the same service. All as a result of the work involved with fixing, servicing and recalibrating the TPMS system.


Chances are they won't be happy about these additional costs.


An effective service writer should be able to answer questions about TPMS and mollify customers angry about why they are now being charged for these services.


As tire dealerships strive to compete in the future, having someone at the service desk who can handle such issues deftly could mean the difference between success and failure.

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