Since the dawn of the Internet, businesses have debated whether to post pricing on their websites so that consumers can easily price shop.
At the recent Tire Factory dealer meeting in Portland, Ore., many of the buying group's members were changing their staunch stance against posting prices.
Last year a majority of the membership was against it, citing the diversity of their regions and markets that made comparable pricing unworkable. This year, their attitudes have swayed toward adopting online pricingat least on a limited basissuch as only pricing a loss leader.
Dealers are realizing they can't fight the trend in which consumers conduct a lot of research on the Internet before making first contact with a retailer. And that research includes comparing prices among competing stores.
A Best Western International Inc. hotel franchisee who spoke at the Tire Factory meeting observed that in the hotel industry, she wouldn't sell many rooms if she didn't post prices on the website.
The same could be said of the tire industry these days. Consumers want information upfront and easily accessible on the Internet before making the effort of calling or visiting a retailer.
That's why it's so important to put as much information as possible on a website to promote the dealership's services, selection, reputation, location and experience. Doing that would more than offset a competitor's lower pricesanything that would prompt a consumer to move beyond viewing the website and making a call to the dealership.
Then comes the next step: the phone conversation. Are your employees prepared to take that phone call and win over a new customer?
During the recent Tire Pros National Dealer Business Conference, President Dan Brown shared survey results that rated independent tire dealers at the bottom of the list of tire retailers when it comes to phone skills. The survey also found dealers tended to quote the highest price on a tire size during customers' phone-shopping expeditions.
At the same time, research also shows that 47 percent of consumers rate price as being a primary consideration when making a tire purchase. That's up from a third at one time.
As has been said in numerous Tire Business stories, today's consumer is much savvier and often armed with a lot of product research before making that first contact with a tire dealership.
So it's imperative the dealership and its employees be equally savvy and informed when greeting that consumer, whether in person, on the phone or via the Internet.
As a result, dealers will have to approach this informed customer differently, and that likely will include providing tire prices online. It's a changing retail tire world and tire dealers must react accordingly to stay in the game.