Tire dealers are not known for being trailblazers when it comes to adopting new technology, but they have an admirable reputation for adapting to changing trends — and surviving.
One trend happening in all industries is cellular communication, which has changed the way we talk with each other.
Many tire dealerships, though, have been reluctant to use cellular technology when communicating with their customers.
As the pandemic forced dealers to adapt to different ways of doing business, so, too, has it compelled dealers to change the way they communicate in order to accommodate customers who don't want to step into dealers' facilities.
Many customers, young and old, prefer the ease and convenience of text messaging to get an estimate, examine photos from a digital vehicle inspection, text an approval, pay electronically for the service and even schedule the next appointment.
On the business side, the service writer and technician don't waste time waiting for a work order approval and even may be able to sell other needed services/parts, according to software companies that sell digital solutions to the tire aftermarket.
These companies maintain customers are more inclined to add repairs and services when they see photos or videos from an inspection showing them the needed parts that need replaced. The visual evidence tends to add legitimacy to the service adviser's recommendations.
With digital communication and transactions, as well as the growing number of mobile service providers that conduct auto service at customers' homes and parking lots, vehicle owners might never again see a dealer or visit a repair shop.
Many may rue the lack of interpersonal communication and face-to-face interactions that are hallmarks of running a successful independent tire dealership.
As unfortunate as this is, the tire industry always has been one to adapt to trends, particularly those that may be difficult. This is one more trend.
It's how dealers adapt that will determine if they can profit from it.
Many dealers we've talked to over the years pride themselves on developing a solid loyal customer base through friendly customer interactions. That can still be the case in the electronic age.
E-commerce companies have developed a loyal following despite never physically meeting or talking to most of its customers. These customers are loyal because e-commerce companies provide the products and services they want and make the transactions convenient, fast and effortless.
Consumers, especially the younger generation, like and want digital communication and the visual transparency of photos/videos.
If dealers want to develop a relationship with the next generation of customers, they should consider adapting and providing the technology and communication tools these customers want and develop a loyal customer base for the future.