Customers have an overwhelming number of choices when it comes to automotive service, especially as non-traditional competitors with huge marketing budgets try to dominate the space. Their growth has come mostly at the expense of locally-owned independent businesses.
Take big-box retailer Costco, whose product portfolio emphasis is as much on the merchandising of appliances, food, health and beauty, computers and home improvement as it is on tire and auto services.
As a means to reinforce this product depth to existing customers, Costco sends out a monthly print magazine called Costco Connection. While leafing through the recent edition, a special “automotive section” caught my eye.
I started to read an article about Costco’s tire and auto center offerings when my curiosity about the content turned to concern because it was touting these centers as “the place to go for all of your tire and service needs.”
It struck a nerve more than once, as you’ll see from these excerpts.
The article tried to position Costco as “the best place for tires at the best price” (plus touted value-added features like an online appointment system, courtesy tire inspections, convenient hours, etc., as if they were unique to the Costco business model), in saying: “Many people have discovered that the prices some tire shops advertise are not the prices you’ll actually pay.”
Another shot at independent repair shops is evident in this sentence: “Costco offers another advantage that has nothing to do with price: We have the best waiting room on the planet. While you’re waiting for your tires to be installed at a Costco Tire Center, you can grab a hot dog….or check out the latest flat-screen TVs. At other tire shops, you may be lucky to find more than coffee, doughnuts and old copies of Road & Track.”
So, it’s clear…Costco wants to eat your tire and service dollars for lunch.
Here are a few ways to give your dealership the upper hand:
- Over-deliver on service with quality, excellence and professionalism. When your customers’ total service “experience” is second to none, you will become your customers’ first call for ongoing tire replacements and vehicle repairs.
- You need to be a “solutions” provider. Customers need their vehicle fixed right the first time and efficiently so they can go on with their busy lives. The more ways you can ease that burden, the more they will reward you with repeat business and abundant referrals. Think about convenience boosters like offering shuttles or rental cars to offset transportation issues while their vehicles are being fixed, and texting them to get repair authorization to minimize interruptions to their day.
- Don’t take customers for granted. Once you get customers in your shop, you need to re-earn their business with every subsequent, high-quality tire service/replacement and vehicle repair.
Bottom line: Your reputation, as well as your customers’ trust and respect, are riding on the quality and effectiveness of every job you perform, so the service experience you provide needs to be remarkable and memorable.
Enter Today: Are You the Next Top Shop?
Now in its 14th year, Tire Review is once again searching for the “best of the best” independent tire dealers in North America for our 2020 Top Shop competition, presented by Coats. The competition is open to tire dealers of all sizes in the retail, commercial and/or wholesale tire business.
Dealers can nominate their own businesses or others can nominate tire dealer businesses. The contest closes April 10, 2020. Go to tirereview.com/topshop to enter today!
Check out the rest of the March digital edition of Tire Review here.