The New Reality – Tires as Loss Leader?

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All Tires $5.00 over cost! Tire Loss Leader pricing is becoming a prevalent form of advertising for large and regional chains as they work to maintain market share against like competitors and surging New Card Dealers. Independent Tire Dealers are watching tire margins shrink  (further) as they struggle to match large and Regional Tire Chain pricing.  Once a strategy regulated to the Car Dealers, advertising "dollars off store cost" is now being  adopted by an alarming number of large retailers.   How can an Independent Tire Dealer Compete with this strategy? While the thought of competing with Large Chains head to head may be daunting for some Independants, I believe that the Independent Tire Dealer can still compete and thrive against the Big Guys.   Here are a few strategies that Independents are using to  fend off the competition: Figure out what your competitive advantage is - and leverage it! Offer value added services such as a complementary car washes, … [Read more...]

Oilinator – Simply Awesome Oil Absorbent Shop Pad!

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Kitty Litter? Really? Thirteen years ago, when I left the store manager ranks for my first multi-unit assignment, the number one way to clean up oil spills was .... you guessed it, KITTY LITTER!!!! Circle back to today, according to my friends at Autoparts International, shops still prefer to clean up oil spills with KITTY LITTER!!!! In the age of the iPhone, Droid and web 2.0, how is it still possible that shops are cleaning up oils spills with kitty litter? Enter stage Right - Spillinex's Oilinator - People you have to see this video staring my good friend Dan Fitzgerald from Bridgestone Complete Auto Care, Mission Viejo.  In the video, Dan demonstrates the future of cleaning up oil spills - and it appears to be a game changer! Spillinex has been kind enough to make available to Retail Tire Solutions, Free Oilinator Pad samples to the first 25 dealers that request them here. Good Selling!   … [Read more...]

Are you kidding me?

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Are you kidding me?  That was my response to Steve, a good friend of mine, when he told me that some of his Independent Tire & Service clients sell oil club programs in hopes that the customer DOES NOT redeem them. Yes - You heard that right! I told Steve that strategy made no sense.   Especially when you take into consideration that it takes approximately $350 to gain a new customer.   The main reason to sell club programs is to encourage loyalty and repeat business. To make sure we are all on the same page, an oil club program is a program that sells multiple oil changes at a significant discount,  trading future gross for loyalty and repeat business.  I also like idea of selling alignment policies and "super coupon" programs. You should probably know by now ... I am a Big fan of just about anything that encourages customer growth! Key Point - it's not how MUCH its How MANY - How much a customer spends every time they service their vehicle with you is less … [Read more...]

When it’s Time to Hang it Up

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What does Mick Jagger, Rickey Henderson, Jerry Rice, Brett Favre and Chris Chelios have in common?  Give up? - YES!  All were (are) legends in their respective professions and - YES - neither appeared to have a well thought out  exit strategy.   One could even argue, all stayed in the "game" a bit too long. What is a Exit Strategy? Wikipedia has a pretty good definition:  "An exit strategy is a means of leaving one's current situation, either after a predetermined objective has been achieved, or as a strategy to mitigate failure.[1][2][3] An organisation or individual without an exit strategy may be in a quagmire. At worst, an exit strategy will save face; at best, an exit strategy will peg a withdrawal to the achievement of an objective worth more than the cost of continued involvement." Why you should have an Exit Strategy? As much as you would not like to admit it, you can't keep doing what you are doing forever.  No one in the history of man has been able to pull that off … [Read more...]

Automotive Seminars & Update to RTS coming soon!

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Hi All ! Its been a busy few months!  I just wanted to update you, and let you know what I have been up to and what you can expect from RTS in the near future. Last October, I left TCi/Michelin to help out a Co-op up in Portland called NW Tire Factory.  Tire Factory is a group of  fantastic Independent Tire Business  owners located mostly in the Pacific Northwest.  Tire Factory is owned and operated by tire and service dealers just like you.  I made short work of building a sales team, developing a recruiting and value add program for their membership and even made a few friends along the way (Hi Steve, Andrew and Rob!). Prior to my detour in Portland,  I was working on a program called "The Complete Winning Strategy".  CWS is a comprehensive retail operations workshop and coaching platform inspired by my 18 years of  leading and assisting retail tire and service  teams.    The program assists store leadership in defining roles, setting goals as well as providing ownership … [Read more...]

Why its a good Idea to Offer an Inspection to Every Customer

I live in Arizona where there is no requirement to have an annual  safety inspection performed on passenger and light truck vehicles.  According to Info.com only 26 States now require regular inspections of automobiles "to rid the highways of dangerous vehicles with bald tires, wobbly suspensions, smoke-filled exhausts, and defective brakes and lights."  You can find that list of States here. If I owned a Tire and Service business in a State that doesn't require regular safety inspections, I'm not sure that I would need another reason to recommend a full mechanical inspection on every one of my customers vehicles at least once a year.  I would charge for that inspection as well. If you do need another reason to offer (sell) inspections to every customer, here is another one!  It has to do with identifying customers that are interested in having a safety inspection performed on their vehicle.  Believe it or not, there are lots of customers that are interested in having a safety … [Read more...]

Red Rules for Tire & Service Dealers

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At the end of the day, no matter what you believe - a standard is whatever you are willing to accept. Activities such as: hand torquing every wheel prior to the vehicle leaving the shop; double checking the oil level, filter and drain plug after performing an oil change and insisting that your people use protective items in every vehicle -  these activities seem like no brainers. However; It has been my experience, that if you don't communicate these expectations to your people, its tough to hold them accountable. Draw A Line in the Sand Here is a example of Red Rules that are used by one of my dealers: The following is our group’s “Red Rules”.  A Red Rule is the minimal acceptable level of performance that will be accepted from this point forward. We will offer every customer a Preferred Customer Card. All oil change conversations will include the option of a Maintenance Package. Every customer will be informed of our 2 and 3 year alignment policy. Every store will … [Read more...]

Using Groupon to Sell More Tires and Service

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FN-ENgWO8I&feature=player_embedded Who uses Groupon? Groupon's main demographics are hip/active young people with money to spend.  The typical Groupon user is a college educated single female, a tough segment to market to with traditional media.  They also are avid users of Social Media - Blogging, Facebooking and Twittering about their purchasing experiences. Check out these Groupon Auto Tire and Service Examples: Big O Tires Oro Valley AZ Sold 305 Auto Tech of Las Vegas Sold 379 Oil Can Henry's Sold over 1,621 Tires and Brakes for Less Sold Out! How Much does Groupon Cost? Groupon cost nothing unless your Groupon is sold.  Once your Groupon meets the requirements you established up front, Groupon takes a percentage of the Groupon coupons that they sell for you.  That's it! Why Groupon? Why not?  Statically speaking, it cost the average Independent Tire Dealer $350 to obtain one new Customer.  Groupon cost you a fraction of the … [Read more...]

Alignment Strategy – What’s a Good Job?

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A good way to gauge whether or not you are maximize your Alignment Opportunities is to base you Alignments sold verses PAT. PAT = Potential Alignment Ticket Potential Alignment Tickets are work orders (invoices) that you have sold two or more retail tires on. I would focus on a goal of 70% Alignments Sold to Work Orders that you have sold two or more tires. Track it Daily for best results! If you need a tracking sheet, check these out. Good Selling, Pat … [Read more...]