Anybody who has been in the tire business longer than the lifecycle of a tire knows that the business is changing.
Convenience seems to be the overriding factor for today's customers, led by the surge of millennials. They want things done on their time schedule, be it shopping for tires, purchasing those tires and having them installed, or having routine maintenance performed on their vehicle.
In addition, they want shops to communicate with them electronically, via text message, social media or email. And paperless transactions have become the new standard.
With that in mind, it is imperative that tire and automotive service shops have the means — and the infrastructure — necessary to attract and retain these new breed of customers.
This issue of Tire Business focuses on the lifeblood of that infrastructure — the digital workplace, or more, specifically, the use of software and the latest technology.
Almost all of the software providers highlighted in these pages offer solutions that revolve around the notion of convenience, efficiency, productivity and ultimately profitability. Companies such as TSC Technologies Inc., MAM Software Inc., ASA Automotive Systems Inc., TireGuru, Bartec USA L.L.C., Bolt On Technology L.L.C. and Epicor Software Corp., among others, share news about some of their latest products, designed to make the workplace more technologically advanced.
With the new year less than a month away, now seems like an opportune time for dealers to take stock of their systems and, if necessary, budget time and money to update their software programs.
Richard Forness, vice president and general manager of R.O. Writer, suggests that shop owners who are considering new software should select a provider that best matches his or her business practices.
As a dealer, are you more concerned about workflow? Tracking? Point-of-sale? Digital inspection? Technician tracking? Figure that out, then select a software provider whose solutions best suit your needs.
And remember that even after the software is installed, there will be a learning curve.
"Software can be a blessing and a curse," said Steve Sweat, general manager of Atlanta based Midtown Tire. His dealerships recently installed MAM's cloud-based VAST POS software. "VAST has been good for us, although not without its challenges."
"A customer that is only a couple of weeks or even months into using our software will probably not like us very much, frankly," Maddenco Inc. President Jay Adams said.
"However, with each passing day/month/year, customers become comfortable with our product and become our biggest advocates."
Operating the latest software, it seems, is no longer a luxury. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, it's become a necessity.