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Prepare to handle "sticker shock'

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Working the sales counter at a tire dealership has never been easy, but the job's getting more challenging in light of evolving trends in the marketplace.

Among the most challenging is dealing with the sticker shock that many consumers are experiencing when the time comes for that first set of replacement tires.

Vehicle makers are turning increasingly to higher performance tires on what many consumers would not consider a “performance” car—tires H-rated and higher accounted for nearly 40 percent of North American OE fitments in 2011. So when the OE tires are worn and need to be replaced, the ticket for four speed-rated performance tires can be daunting.

It's not unheard of, for example, for the owner of a late model sedan such as a Toyota Camry or Hyundai Sonata—who's probably unaware that his or her vehicle even has performance tires—to be looking at $800 or more for a set of tires.

And who gets the “pleasure” of informing that owner of this “inconvenient truth?” That would be you, Mr. or Ms. Counterperson.

It's highly likely that many of these owners will be looking for an economic alternative to what they consider to be an exorbitant price for a product that cost much less the last time they bought tires, especially considering today's economic climate and the fact many consumers' budgets will be tighter as they grapple with higher tax rates.

For these reasons, counterpersons have to be better prepared to explain the features and benefits of high-performance tires compared with those of standard tires and competing high-performance models.

As dealers and their sales personnel well understand, there really is a difference in how performance tires handle vs. a non-performance tire. Being able to explain those differences to consumers will go a long way toward helping them understand why they cost more.

That means making sure you have a well-trained, informed and informative staff.

The aftermarket, which not long ago was ahead of OE in terms of selling performance tires, is tracking the OE trend quite closely. In 2011, tires H-rated and above were nearly 30 percent of the U.S. replacement market and industry executives expect that to keep growing. One executive quoted in this issue of Tire Business suggested this market will increase to as much as 35 percent by 2017.

That's a significant increase and all the more reason why tire dealers should embrace the trend toward high-performance tires, especially in a year when it appears replacement tire sales overall will continue to languish.
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Previous | Published December 6, 2018

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