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Editor's Notebook

Habit-Changing Agents

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When I was in the advertising biz, the best piece of advice I ever got was this: It’s easy to write beautiful copy. It’s damn hard to get someone to spend $1 million on a machine they don’t need.

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It is equally true is that it’s damn hard to get people to change their ways. This is not the "old dog/new tricks" scenario. Rather, it is a matter of presenting compelling case and rock solid reasons why someone should change an established habit.

Joggers, for instance, are not born. They choose to run because someone convinced them of the health benefits of cardiovascular exercise. Likewise, ex-smokers find the fortitude to give up a highly addictive habit.

Another truism: No one wants to intentionally harm themselves or others. Other than nutjob terrorists or anyone willing to sit through a Pauly Shore movie, no one really wants to get hurt.

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People don’t drive around on under- or overinflated and bald tires because they’re suicidal or murderous.

And they don’t do it because they’re stupid or disadvantaged or lack common sense or are lazy or inattentive.

The reason so many – and I mean MANY – people are oblivious to proper tire care is that NO ONE has presented to them a compelling case as to why they should take proper care of their tires. Not mom, not dad, not brother or sister, uncle or aunt. Not even that 27-inch color TV. No one. Period.

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Ninety percent – that’s 9-0 PERCENT – of the drivers the RMA surveyed last year weren’t checking tire pressure properly.

Only 34% of drivers know where to look for the recommended tire pressure for their vehicles’ tires. Only 28% know how often tires should be rotated. And half of ‘em guessed!

Some 30% ride around with at least one badly underinflated tire. Ten percent have at least one bald tire.

These aren’t mental stiffs we’re talking about. Proportioned against the entire U.S. populous, there are plenty of doctors, lawyers, nurses, professors, accountants, executives, and rocket scientists in this mix.

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Worse yet, these results were from surveys done after the tire recall mania of 2000!

Remarkably, 97% of the drivers RMA surveyed said that tire maintenance was at least "somewhat important."

That means there is a big opening for YOU to CONVINCE THEM to CHANGE their ways.

Think of them as joggers before they learned about running.

We’ve strongly suggested (to put it mildly) many times that we need an industry-wide consumer education campaign. Something substantial, something we can all get behind that would improve the tire care knowledge of the tire-consuming public. And if that something also generated opportunities for dealers to increase sales and profits, all the better.

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That something is here: National Tire Safety Week, Apr. 27 to May 3.

Tire Review has partnered with RMA to help promote NTSW within the industry. On pages 26 and 27 of this issue is important information on how YOU can get involved and use NTSW to help alter your customers’ habits.

By jumping on the bandwagon and promoting NTSW in your local market – perhaps with free tire checks – this grassroots effort to improve tire care knowledge and participation will drive home the true value of quality tires and quality tires dealers. Like yourself.

What makes NTSW such a tremendous opportunity, from our perspective, is that it is as much about tire dealers as it is about consumers. It’s an easy, low cost way to influence your entire market, establish your expertise and value, and build greater confidence among existing and prospective customers.

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How many opportunities do you have to spend a little and gain a lot?

NTSW, hampered last year by a late start, still posted some impressive results. The RMA has smartly taken a crawl-before-you-walk-before-you-run approach, but is ready for a stronger push in 2003. They hope, as do I, that someday soon we’ll celebrate NTSW in the same fashion as other more familiar events.

But you have to lead the charge.

Contact your tire suppliers to see what help they offer, or plan to offer. Look at the information RMA placed in this magazine. Start thinking about how you can convince your customers to dramatically change their ways.

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You’re in the best position to be your customers’ habit-changing agent. And you can make a life-long customer while you’re at it!

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