NitroFill Inc., a manufacturer and marketer of nitrogen tire inflation equipment, is branching out from its roots as an add-on profit generator for car dealerships to promote tire inflation maintenance to tire dealers.
The firm's Cap Kit customer retention program, which is based on offering customers nitrogen tire inflation service, is designed to help keep patrons coming back to their local tire dealership, said Jay Lighter, owner and president of Pompano Beach-based NitroFill.
Mr. Lightera third-generation tire dealer and owner of EF Tire & Auto Repair in Pompano Beachsaid he understands the importance that tire dealers place on traffic.
For generations, the Holy Grail of traffic was the oil change, Mr. Lighter said. It was the most required and frequently requested service for every vehicle. You could count on seeing every customer every three months or 3,000 miles for service.
In recent years, however, the oil change has devolved into an almost annual service, he said. Most domestic vehicles only require an oil change every 5,000-5,700 miles, and the service interval for many imports exceeds 12,000 miles. It's hard to feed your family seeing your customers but once a year.
With advancements in modern vehicle design leading to fewer mechanical problems and longer time lapses between maintenance checkups, Mr. Lighter said it would be wise for tire dealers to leverage something that newer car models still need every month: tire pressure checks.
As things have evolved, I think that a tire inflation maintenance program makes more sense for everyone, he told Tire Business.
In past years, nitrogen tire inflation equipment was too costly for many tire dealers, Mr. Lighter said, but recently it has become more affordable.
The price of equipment has come down dramatically. Our new E-170 machine is less than half the price of what our equipment used to be.
Mr. Lighter said the Cap Kit program is about much more than just filling tires with nitrogenit serves as more of a marketing tool to help dealers maintain their customer base and generate profit.
Dealers set the price for each NitroFill service, and it is sold as an annual service, Mr. Lighter said. Even though nitrogen doesn't wear out, we send each customer back to their NitroFill dealer each year to purchase another service. By repurging and servicing the customer's tires again, they enjoy greater purity and a more intensive annual inspection.
Customers who purchase a nitrogen tire inflation service at a NitroFill dealer receive a Cap Kit, which includes five self-sealing aluminum valve caps, a windshield sticker and a registration card/key tag that allows the customer to sign up for a free one-year membership with the NitroFill Auto Club.
That club, which Mr. Lighter called AAA on steroids, offers customers up to $200 a year in benefits such as road hazard tire repair and replacement coverage; 24-hour emergency roadside assistance and towing; 24-hour fluid delivery; lost key and lock-out service; theft protection; hit-and-run protection; and travel benefits.
All benefits are prepaid and do not require the customer to pay out-of-pocket expenses.
If you have a problem period, we're there for you, Mr. Lighter said. All those benefits are there to get the customer to embrace the program.
Mr. Lighter said NitroFill sells the Cap Kits to dealers at $12 each, and dealers can then choose to set their own price for resale. An upgraded kit that features wheel repair coverage also is available for customers to purchase and generally retails for $30-$40, he said.
The NitroFill Auto Club requires no participation on the dealer's part, and customers can make claims directly by calling the company.
Mr. Lighter said the dealer also benefits from customers' registering for the program, because NitroFill sends out monthly newsletters to the customers reminding them to return to the dealer for service. These newsletters can be customized to include survey questions, print-and-clip coupons and new product and event announcements.
When customers come back for their annual tire inspection and refilling service, they receive another set of valve caps and their membership in the Auto Club is renewed.
For dealers, participation in the program requires only that they have access to nitrogen inflation equipment and that they purchase the Cap Kits.
NitroFill will sell, lease or loan dealers a NitroFill nitrogen generator for use in their shops, but dealers can also use their own equipment.
Mr. Lighter also is the president of SafTrack Group L.L.C., which has its own Tire Inflation Maintenance (TIM) program based on regular air pressure checks in tires. TIMdesigned for dealers who are unwilling or unable to offer nitrogen tire inflation servicefeatures a similar marketing and customer benefits program, with a tire gauge purchase as the customers' entry into the program.
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