Finally, your service advisor’s interaction with the customer starts.
Long outdated are the days where your employees interact nose-to-nose over a counter, says Underhill. Now, transactions are happening hip-to-hip for a more personal touch.
For example, Bridgestone’s Retail Showroom Program allows dealers to seamlessly incorporate more technology by having the option to buy a more comfortable kiosk, tearing down the barrier of a service counter. The kiosk acts like a self-service station for the customer, Kolton says. The digitally savvy pod houses a 27-in. touch screen monitor that can swivel around for the customer to take control of their tire buying venture.
“This allows [the dealer’s] team to come out from behind the counter and have a side-to-side experience,” says Bridgestone’s Kolton. “You really want to build that trust and create that relationship with the customer to get that repeat business.”
Tate, a Bridgestone dealer whose shops received the Bridgestone showroom treatment, says he’s noticed that the kiosks let the customer navigate the process of tire buying and give them the control in purchasing decisions.
Jarid Lundeen, another Bridgestone dealer and president and CEO of Tires Plus Total Car Care in North Dakota, also utilizes a kiosk concept “where brick-and-mortar and the internet mix.” He says it has allowed for his employees to be more mobile when talking with customers, and makes customers feel as if they’re at home surfing the internet but have a trusty service advisor guiding them through each step of the process.
Underhill says this is important because it creates a friendly place that generates customer confidence. Not having a barrier between the employee and the customer makes it easier for more natural communication to occur.
“Being out on the floor, you’re welcoming them into your dealership,” Underhill says. “It can start a conversation… Getting someone the right tire is getting them to talk about the driving they do. This, for the independent tire merchant, is critical… Build the consumer’s confidence, and it gives you a platform to upsell if you think it’s necessary.”
Another way to break down the barriers for customer comfort is to have your showroom be clear in communicating what you offer. One way to do this, Kolton says, is by making product displays simple.
“A cleaner environment is a better environment,” he says. “There should be some intentionality in how you display your merchandise… Stacks of tires in the sales areas can make consumers overwhelmed and intimated.”
Kolton suggests products be displayed up on a wall or on mobile tire displays to allow the dealer or service advisor to move it around.
Hoyt, of TireShowrooms.com, says when designing displays, it’s also important to consider the average height of a female and male customer. Tire displays lower to the ground also have a more balanced center of gravity, which means the display will be more stable.
Before the transaction between the customer and service advisor ends, it’s important to give the customer an idea of how long the process will take, says Underhill. Since many customers buy tires every four to six years, they may not be as familiar with the process, so you want minimal surprises to ensure they’re comfortable every step of the way.
“One of my frustrations with walking into a tire dealership is when I don’t know until I bought the tires and they say, ‘you know, it’s going to be 90 minutes. You have 15 people in front of you we’re backed up.’ I just wasn’t expecting it, and I might have made some decisions differently.”