I can see why some tire dealers have trouble convincing customers of the merits of installing winter tires on their vehicles.
After recently turning in a leased vehicle, I tried to give away a set of winter tires with plenty of tread left on them, but my friends and colleagues were ambivalent, to say the least.
Along the way, a tire dealer friend and I learned a valuable lesson in marketing hard-to-sell tires — from his grandson, no less.
As for my offer of free winter tires, my friends, for the most part, didn't see the value in them, didn't know where they would store them and weren't keen on the idea of having to pay to have them removed in the spring and installed before winter.
I, on the other hand, am a devotee of winter snows. I know the impact they have on safety and performance. So do my wife and daughter.
That's why I worked so hard to give them away. I wanted someone else to experience what I already knew.
Admittedly the tires were a niche size — 245/45/R18 — OE on the Nissan Maxima. So the potential pool of takers was small.
Eventually I found another Maxima owner who wanted to make her vehicle safer in the snow.
But a few days later, she emailed back. She didn't want them after all, confessing her husband had something else in mind.
So my tire dealer friend, who was storing the tires for me in his warehouse, and I were back to square one trying to give away a set of niche-size winter tires.
He anticipated this would take time until someone needing that size came into the dealership.
A few days later the tires were gone.
His grandson, who works at the dealership, had asked if he could offer them on Craigslist, the free online classified ad site. Within an hour, they were taken.
"That's amazing," I told my dealer friend. "I can't believe this happened so fast."
He was surprised, too, noting when he advertises a set of tires in the newspaper, he oftentimes wouldn't get a call.
The grandson taught his grandfather and me a lesson in the power of online marketing, and in this case, everyone benefited.
Mr. Zielasko is editorial director and VP/publisher of Tire Business.