Does it seem like change, especially technological change, is happening at warp speed — so fast you can barely keep up?
Well, you're not imagining it. The pace of change is increasing exponentially, according to speakers at the recent Clemson University Global Tire Industry Conference.
"Knowledge will soon be doubling every 12 months, and soon after that every 12 hours," said David Martin, director of sales for American Tire Distributors, who spoke at the conference along with John Evankovich, director of Sam's Club Tire & Battery Centers.
That's a scary prediction that, if it plays out, will impact not only tire dealers but society in general.
The question for tire dealers is how to deal with the inevitable changes new technology brings? It's not something dealers can avoid, so if they want to stay in business long term they must find ways to make the new technology work for them.
The beauty for tire dealers, the speakers noted, is that consumers still must enter the dealership to have their tires installed and serviced. So the basic job functions of running a tire dealership likely will remain the same.
Where the big change is coming for tire dealers appears to be in communication, driven by the Millennial generation, those born after 1989. In six years, this generation will consist of 140 million tire buyers, the speakers said.
Millennials co-exist with, embrace and communicate using technology. It's part of their DNA.
Because of this, the relationship between tire dealers and their Millennial customers will have to change to one where technology plays a leading role in communication vs. the tried-and-true face-to-face interaction.
To work with, attract and hold the attention of this young and expansive customer base, tire dealers must have good apps and up-to-date websites, the speakers suggested.
"The relationship between dealer and customer will still matter, but your app will determine whether you get that next click," Mr. Evankovich said.
And that click is mighty important. Dealers might have as little as seven seconds to determine whether you get that new customer, according to Mr. Martin.
Traditionally, one of a tire dealer's strengths vs. the competition was the close personal relationship they had with the customers in their communities.
In the future, dealers can still have a relationship with their customers, but it is more likely to be through their smartphone rather than a hug.