AI & Your Tire Shop: Using it to Your Advantage

AI & Your Tire Shop: Using it to Your Advantage

AI could revolutionize the tire industry. It's time to adapt and invest for success.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard of artificial intelligence, or AI, in the news recently. It’s scary. Headlines asking, “Will AI take our jobs?” are all over the internet, and I’m sure you’ve had a few water cooler or dinner discussions about experimenting with Chat GPT, a glorified chatbot, to accomplish work tasks. I know I have. I mean, writing examples from AI tools like Chat GPT rival some of the cover letters I’ve edited for friends.

I’m just as flabbergasted as you are about how technology, especially AI, has crawled its way into every nook and cranny of our lives—I’m looking at you Siri and Alexa. Whether you’ve recognized it or not, AI technology has been at work for years in the automotive industry.

We’ve seen chat applications like Podium that schedule a service appointment for your customers (and so much more) at your store in a matter of minutes. There’s software like OpenBay that reminds your customers of regular maintenance intervals via email. Even advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) augment various vehicle components to make driving safer and more efficient.

Let’s dig in even deeper. Just in the past few years, we’ve seen Hunter Engineering’s autonomous inspection system that collects data with a simple drive-over, high-tech camera. There are now robotics that claim to change a set of tires in under 20 minutes (RoboTire). A camera phone application that can automatically scan a tire’s DOT information for ease in completing tire registrations (Anyline). We also have a voice-powered repair solution (Ortho) that uses natural language processing to access repair information for techs (think Siri or Chat GPT that specifically understands automotive terms with access to OEM databases).

These are just the tip of the AI-iceberg. I could go on and on describing the AI that’s already being used in the tire industry today. The fact is we are fully into the digital age, and some might argue “The Age of AI,” as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in his book of the same name. So, the question remains: How will you adapt to AI? How can you use it to work for you?

As an independent tire dealer, I’d argue you’re used to change. Heck, we saw it during the pandemic. Skill sets to service vehicles have evolved over time, and I believe this is just the next step in that evolution. I’ve interviewed many top independent dealers who say their focus is investing in their people to “upskill” their workforce to service the vehicles that come into their bays now and in the future.

I encourage you to take a look at tools that use AI to see what you can let a computer take care of and how best to invest in your human capital and achieve ROI from it (with the technician shortage in the industry, this could be very helpful). I would persuade you to get in touch with vendors utilizing AI to identify how it can make life easier in your business. Look at your processes and how you can automate them (with human oversight, of course). This will allow you to focus on working on the business instead of in the business.

You can choose your side of the AI argument, but consider this advice from fellow shop owner Terry Keller, who is also CEO of Auto Profit Masters and creator of the RPM ToolKit. He says: “There are new AI-driven tools today that have multiple revenue-generating and cost-savings streams that raise the total ROI beyond historical models of any kind… AI drives and insures each of the revenue streams automatically with simple settings, little oversight and verifiable real-time reporting. The question of whether you can afford AI-driven technology to run your shop is no longer relevant.

The real question is, ‘How will I survive without it?’”

I firmly believe that AI won’t take our jobs. However, to survive in this business, we must continue to adapt and learn new technologies to further elevate our industry.

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