It's really a no-brainer but can't be said often enough: Good products and great service may keep customers coming back, but the impact of a tire dealership's appearance cannot—and should not—ever be underestimated.
Take a quick look around your digs. Appealing? Or a turn off?
You can use the ever-present crutch that, well, since the economy tanked, business has been…fill in the blank…slow; non-existent; on life support; so-so; adequate. Or great. Then look again at your surroundings. Are they part of the reasons why things are how they are?
For Texas tire dealers Terry and Bonnie Franklin, the answers resided partly in a building out of the 1950s that was screaming for a facelift. Sure, location and proximity to traffic patterns, other retail establishments, etc., can offer built-in advantages to a business—don't forget that old saying that the secret to sales is location, location, location. But having an attractive place where people feel comfortable going and don't mind spending their valuable time and cash is more than half the battle.
Half may be an understatement.
Your emporium may have your competitors beat hands-down when it comes to product and service offerings and a sharp, friendly, knowledgeable staff. But if customers are leery about coming in the door, you might as well hang a “gone fishin'” sign in the window and lament how you can't wait for things to get better.
The Franklins didn't wait. In fact, their 49-year-old dealership has been enjoying “a few really good years”—that translates to record-setting sales three years running—due in part to a thorough refreshing they gave one of their three stores. Helping them make that possible was a program Bridgestone Americas offers its independent dealers in the U.S. and Canada through which they can remodel their showrooms with free design help buttressed with nationwide purchasing incentives for materials and services.
The program covers every aspect of showroom design, from flooring and color schemes to effective use of space, improved product displays and other enhancements.
While we can't vouch firsthand for the tire maker's program, its goals are noteworthy and shouldn't be underestimated. Ms. Franklin told Tire Business the store, which she manages in Big Spring, Texas, is now more updated than her competitors' and offers a “different atmosphere.” That certainly helps attract the women and senior citizens to whom her dealership caters.
Bridgestone's isn't the only program out there. Many suppliers, franchise programs and marketing groups, as part of their services, offer anything from advice and suggestions to full-scale packages to help dealerships stay fresh, up-to-date, appealing and, inevitably, more profitable.
So take another look around. Business is great? We salute you—you're obviously doing a lot of things right. If not, ask yourself why. Maybe a splash of paint and a redesigned showroom are good places to start.