Technological advances that continue to disrupt the tire and automotive service industry.
Autonomous vehicles. Hybrids. Electric vehicles. Ride-sharing. Fleets. Intelligent sensors. New adhesive technology for rubber compounds. The ability for customers to make service appointments online. Artificial intelligence. Aftermarket vehicle connectivity. Translucent tires. Hackathons. Hydrogen fuel cell systems. Autonomous shuttles. Non-pneumatic integrated tire/wheel systems.
And those are just a few of the concepts highlighted. Imagine the myriad other technologies and innovations that have hit the market or are in development in R&D centers across the globe.
It's enough to make your head spin.
Those old enough still can remember the futuristic robot from the 1960s TV show warning the child, "Danger Will Robinson, danger!"
All of us are aware of the landmines that technology leaves behind for those in the tire and automotive service industry.
You may ask yourself:
How will autonomous vehicles impact my tire dealership? How can we handle customers preferring to conduct research, make a purchase and schedule their own appointments online? Why should I post my prices online and share that proprietary information with my competitors?
Should my shop make an investment to service electric vehicles? Are the tires I'm selling today going to be the types of tires on vehicles five years from now?
What kind of effect will all this new technology have on my business?
Pick one of these answers: Yes. No. Maybe. Who knows?
The best thing tire dealers and those in the industry can do is keep abreast of new trends and technologies and keep an open mind about how they might benefit your operation. Learn about that latest sensor system or new alignment machine or state-of-the-art compound that Brand X is releasing into the market.
Figure out whether you want to carve out a space servicing electric vehicles. It could be lucrative: Dave Crawford, president and CEO of The Hybrid Shop, said that hybrids and electric vehicles are expected to make up 18 percent of the new vehicle market by 2025.
Yet the vehicles of today — more than 90 percent of which are powered by internal combustion engines — will be needing service well into the future.
So what's a dealer to do?
First, don't believe everything you read, hear or see will become an unquestioned success. Think New Coke.
Secondly, don't discount that many of those innovations will become the new norm very soon. Think iPhone.
It's a changing world, but one that progressive and entrepreneurial dealers can harness to their advantage.