'Breakfast Cruises' Bring Added Customers to Tire Dealerships - Tire Review Magazine

‘Breakfast Cruises’ Bring Added Customers to Tire Dealerships

Most red-blooded Americans will agree with me – many rather enthusiastically – that doughnuts are great, in almost any form. Even vegans enjoy a Boston Cream doughnut. And although most of the officers in blue I know cringe at the old jokes about cops and doughnuts, park a cruller near their cruiser and soon they’ll be dusting bits of sugar off of their ’staches. All hail the doughnut!

And coffee…there is no analog for a hot cup of Joe on a crisp morning, the steam rising from the brim of the paper cup clutched to warm the hands. Combine a decent cup of coffee with a doughnut and suddenly, the world makes sense again. But more than one doughnut may get you in personal contact with the First Lady, who’s on a crusade to delete sugar from our diets – so be careful.

Put some coffee and doughnuts on a table and people have a tendency to find them – no matter where. I truly believe if we want to see a manned mission to Mars in the next 10 years, we need only send a robot to the red planet first to set out a table of coffee and doughnuts. The astronauts will find them – and won’t need advanced knowledge of cosmology or telemetry to do so. They will just follow the scent of the glazed happiness and next thing you know, the U.S. flag will be hoisted atop Mt. Olympus. No sweat.

With that in mind, getting automotive enthusiasts to your shop should be quite easy indeed.

Increasing Store Traffic
American automotive and performance enthusiasts all have one basic thing in common – they love cars. Big ones, little ones, new ones, old ones and especially fast ones. Car guys and girls love to see and be seen in and around great cars. Combine that love of cars and man’s love of coffee and doughnuts and one has a recipe for good times – and higher store traffic.
Lending your parking lot for a cruise-in or car club event is a great way to attract a large number of potential customers - both the enthusiasts themselves, as well as curious passers-by.
Getting more potential customers in your door is part and parcel to greater sales – and finding ways to do it with the greatest return on investment possible takes a little creativity and some good community relations practices.

An idea that is sweeping the automotive enthusiast club organizations in the western U.S. is the implementation of breakfast cruises. On a particular weekend, club members and local gear heads drive their cars to a nearby parking lot for a cruise that awards no trophies or prizes for entrants.

The basic idea is that a suitable parking area is found, within walking distance to a restaurant or store that sells breakfast and coffee. Car owners ask permission to use the lot for a show (just as one would for a normal car show or cruise-in). Then, usually by word of mouth, newsletter announcements and e-mail communication, car owners choose a date to arrive, usually a Saturday morning from 6 until 9 or so, and bring their cars to show.

These breakfast cruises are very informal, and cars and their owners are free to come and go as they wish. The popularity of these non-stress shows is growing at an extremely rapid rate, and the traffic they create is quite amazing – and tire stores are a natural fit to host these events.

Even though many of these breakfast cruises are less organized than normal car shows and concours, participants are interested in hassle-free meeting spots where they can get together with their friends and fellow gear heads to bench race, show off their cars and get a good look at “the competition.” These shows level the playing field and give everyone’s cars, from grocery getters and beaters to trailer queens and show winner “drivers” the same attention from enthusiasts that wish to attend. The shows attract loads of attention from enthusiasts not affiliated with a particular club and, in their own way, help boost community spirit and morale.

Tire dealers are in a unique position to both service this side of the enthusiast culture by opening their doors on Saturdays (or even Friday nights) for cruise-ins, and also gain a captive audience to hold seminars, demonstrate products and introduce the latest innovations in ultra-high performance, high performance, touring, light truck and SUV/crossover tire products.

Not only can dealers take advantage of the draw of free parking to cross-promote and share with enthusiasts and the potential sales they bring to the table, but dealers also can draw an audience of potential customers from passers-by and curious onlookers.

Dealers also may take the opportunity to share maintenance knowledge with show attendees, adding demonstrations of shop equipment, pitches of service packages and information about manufacturer or dealer promotions to take the events to the next level.

Advertising these events can be done on the cheap – by using Internet postings, e-mail campaigns or word of mouth to keep costs low. Once attendees see that they have a safe, convenient and fun location where they can hang out on a Friday night or Saturday morning, show off their car and see some other great iron, they’ll be eager to return – and will share the news with their friends.

The key to success in making events such as this work is to keep a clean and happy place for enthusiasts to visit. Be sure to make your products accessible for up-close inspection and even demonstrations – and don’t go overboard. A nice, easy-going event will always beat out an aggressive display any day – especially for repeat business. Soon, these weekly, biweekly or even monthly cruise-ins will become part of the regular community calendar, and your shop will be well-regarded as a place to go for expert advice and friendly service.

Selling performance tires can be a difficult proposition. Many original equipment manufacturers have fitted HP and UHP rubber to vehicles to augment their performance, but those performance increases cost more. Taking the time to educate your potential customers on the ins and outs of the value, safety and service these tires demand will pay dividends – and may only cost you time and a few bucks for some good, hot coffee and fresh doughnuts.

For more information on hosting events at your shop, click here

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