AKRON (July 6, 2016) — Transparency, trust, loyalty — they certainly are powerful words and concepts.
These are ideas peppered throughout presentations made recently by the top executives of Bridgestone Americas' and Goodyear's corporate retail store operations outlining their respective approaches to revitalizing their tire and auto service store operations.
Powerful words and concepts that also long have been the backbone of independent tire dealers' business playbook as they strive to defend and grow their place in the automotive aftermarket in the face of growing numbers of competitors in the field looking to take business away from them.
Stu Crum, president of Bridgestone's $5 billion-a-year retail operations business unit, said the business has two overriding goals in attracting and keeping more customers: gain the consumers' trust and “win the community.”
While these aspirations start at the top, it's up to the unit's 23,000 employees — “teammates” in Bridgestone speak — to grasp the challenge and push it forward with customers, whom Bridgestone refers to as “bosses.”
To help the employees gain insight into Bridgestone's vision of customer service in today's marketplace, the company identified five “must-win” battles.
Among these are to “establish a high-performance customer-centric culture” and “increase customer loyalty.”
Turning concepts into reality depends on training, Mr. Crum stressed. To help advance the business' vision, Bridgestone Retail has established seven retail “lab stores” around the country where it's testing a variety of concepts that draw on the customer-centric approaches of successful companies like Starbucks Corp., Nordstrom Inc. and Chick-Fil-A.
Similarly, Goodyear has designated a new-look store that opened recently in suburban Akron as its primary “test-and-learn” site for new customer-interaction concepts.
The store's integrated open design features a wall of windows that provides a clear view of the service area, offering increased transparency that “allows customers to see our expert service team using the latest technologies and procedures when servicing their vehicles,” said Fred Thomas, vice president of Goodyear retail. “This interaction will help customers make more informed choices.”
The company's goal is to deliver a “high quality, consistent experience while respecting the customers' time and treating them fairly,” Mr. Thomas said. This approach stresses gaining consumers' trust in order to win them as repeat customers for any of the services offered.
Gaining trust and developing loyalty are lofty goals and difficult to achieve — especially in a corporate environment. If the Bridgestone and/or Goodyear retail chains are successful in their efforts, it will put pressure on independent dealers in key areas that have long been their primary domain.
This editorial appears in the July 4 print edition of Tire Business. Have an opinion on it? Send your comments, or a letter to the editor, to [email protected]. Please include your name, title, official name of the business, the city in which it's located, and a daytime phone number and email address where you can be reached for verification purposes.