AKRON — Not all independent tire dealers are going to be comfortable with this, but it seems a foregone conclusion that going forward, successful dealers will need to embrace the power of smartphones and/or tablets in their dealerships.
This is being led not only by tire makers, tire suppliers and large tire chains, but by the automotive and technology industries and by consumers who are embracing evolving technology and demanding it from their service providers.
- This editorial appears in the March 13 print edition of Tire Business.
Think, for example, about how smartphones, which really are just mini computers, can improve communication with customers and help market a dealership's operations.
First off, nearly every customer who drives into the service shop has one and is spending hours each day looking at it.
This presents a great opportunity to communicate with those customers through emails and texts as their cars are being repaired and afterward with followups and service reminders.
Using the power of a smartphone, dealership service managers can, for example, provide continual updates on the timetable of repairs and any surprises.
Dealers also can use a smartphone or tablet to take photos of the repairs themselves and the parts that are to be replaced to help customers understand better why the work is necessary.
This can have the added benefit of increasing the average ticket price, according to Jeremy O'Neal of Advisor Fix. In a seminar at last year's AAPEX, he cited a study of 400 repair shops that showed the use of digital photos resulted in higher average repairs ($485) than those that offered no visual evidence ($285).
Dealerships even can FaceTime with customers, having the technician speak directly to the customer from the service bay to answer questions and concerns about the work being done.
What's more, the dealership can use a smartphone or tablet to take photos of cars as they enter the shop to ensure there is no confusion regarding damage to the vehicle.
Software also is available that allows dealership personnel to pull up the service history of vehicles on a tablet as they greet the customer pulling into the dealership's parking lot.
Smartphones and tablets are powerful tools that can change and improve the relationship tire dealers have with their customers.
This is a technological opportunity dealers should embrace and figure out how to use to their and their customers' advantage.