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K&M Tire Conference Day 2: Session Takeaways for Dealers

Managing cash flow, capitalizing on digital marketing and tips for accelerating business were just a few of the topics covered during day two of K&M Tire’s 2021 Virtual Dealer Conference, held Jan. 20-21.

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Tire Review attended each session and below is a brief summary and action items for you to employ in your business.

Take a look at our Day 1 recap of K&M Tire’s Virtual Dealer Conference here.

Social Media Digital Campaign Effectiveness

Today’s world runs on social media, and this shift is already having a major impact on the way consumers purchase tires. So, how can dealers capitalize on promoting their business through social media? Campaigns on different platforms can be effective if done right, according to Stephanie Metherd, vice president of sales and marketing for BFM marketing agency.

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Metherd, along with her colleague and BFM General Manager Jason Rupert, took dealers through a step-by-step process on how to set up a marketing campaign on social media, reviewed the platforms they can utilize to accomplish this and shared best practices for engaging consumers and communicating effectively.

Metherd said while numerous social media platforms exist in our world today, Facebook – with 2.7 billion users – has been the most effective for her clients in the tire and auto industry. The top three platforms that attract the most engagement for dealers include Facebook, Google (with 1.5 billion users) and YouTube (126 million users), she said.

Stephanie Metherd, vice president of sales and marketing for BFM, and her colleague,
BFM General Manager Jason Rupert, took dealers through a step-by-step process on how to set up a marketing campaign on Facebook and best practices for engaging consumers and communicating effectively.

Metherd and Rupert also reviewed some best practices to engage customers on social media and make dealers’ advertising campaigns more effective. Those include: strong visuals and imagery; an education element; video; telling a story; including a call to action; and touting community involvement.

“Your content will make a greater impact when you address your consumers’ needs,” Metherd said. “Share your passion for tires by educating them on a product and its features. This will increase their trust in you and can help you build strong relationships.”

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Rupert continued, “Visual media conveys emotions and ideas. Video does a great job catching a viewer’s eye and educating customers.”

Metherd suggested including a call to action such as “find your next tire” and “learn more” as ways to motivate viewers to interact with your content. The BFM team also suggested that dealers use the momentum from tire manufacturers’ advertising campaigns by posting similar ads and messaging to their own social platforms.

Source: BFM Group Inc.

Don’t Dam Your Cash

Jon Zurcher, COO of Best-One Tire & Service, shared with K&M Tire dealers how they can keep adequate cash flow in their business by using an image of a dam.

“Cash is liquid. It flows,” Zurcher explained. “Think of a dam with a reservoir with clear blue water in it. The water in the reservoir is the cash you put into your company to capitalize it. It only opens when you make a decision to use it, for example, if you buy inventory.”

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Zurcher focused his presentation on three key elements of the business: inventory, accounts receivable and gross profit.

Inventory turns – or the annual cost of goods divided by your inventory – equals the number of inventory turns your store does per year, Zurcher said. A few ways to improve inventory turns are to set minimum and maximum stocking levels in your POS; stock “A” movers and rely on K&M to carry “B, C and D” movers; and, lastly, have a process for tracking special order tires through to the sale.

Zurcher said when focusing on accounts receivables, an aging report is your best measure of quality. To measure receivables flow, take the amount in your accounts receivable and divide it by average daily sales (or average annual sales). He said the farther past due an account gets, the less likely you are to collect your money.

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Finally, Zurcher compared gross profit to pouring water on top of a dam. To increase gross profit, Zurcher said dealers should focus on increasing their gross profit margin on products and selling more services, such as selling a Road Hazard Warranty and implementing a shop supplies fee.

Top Shops Share Top Tips

Running a successful tire dealership requires a ton of knowledge, skill and a lot of juggling. This seminar offered a wealth of business operations tips and strategies, inspired by Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire Top Shops that have made their businesses thrive. The Tire Review team detailed what it takes to be a Top Shop, showcasing past and present Top Shop Winners and Finalists as great examples in six key areas, each introduced with an entertaining shop owner/technician/customer role-play skit.

David Sickels, associate editor for Tire Review, and Mary DellaValle, editor of Tire Review, review what makes a Top Shop in Tire Review’s session, “Top Shops Share Top Tips.”

Appearance

Customers have too many choices today for everything they want to buy. So, your dealership needs to stand out in consumers’ minds — to be memorable. 

One way to stand out is with a great first impression. First impressions are crucial for not only attracting customers, but they lay the foundation for building customer trust and confidence.

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Some ways to help create an ideal service “experience” that will pay dividends in repeat customers and ongoing referrals include paying attention to what your customers “see” when they log onto your website, enter your dealership and sit in your waiting area.

Your website is the “window” to your business because, oftentimes, it’s a prospect’s first interaction with your business. So, include photos of your team so potential customers can make a connection (remember, this is still a people business) and showcase your attractive and clean shop.

Provide a list of services offered and details about your techs’ expertise and certifications – this instills confidence and trust. And, showcase how you’re engaged in the community – which shows customers and prospects that you care and are “giving back” to those who have helped build your business.

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On-site, your shop exterior should be neat and clean, and the glass door through which customers enter should be cleaned — every day. Your service advisor should greet each customer with a welcoming smile.

Display your techs’ certifications on the wall, as well as any awards your business has received — this is another way to instill confidence and trust with your customers.

Mary DellaValle, editor of Tire Review, explains aspects of a shop’s appearance that can improve the customer experience.

Your waiting room should be a comfortable, inviting area that could include beverages, snacks, reading materials, WiFi, a television, children’s play area and the like. Make sure that the chairs are in good condition and not worn out and dirty. And, don’t forget about the bathrooms! They should be checked multiple times throughout the day, and cleaned and stocked, as needed.

Paying attention to these details speaks volumes about your dealership and your level of care. Customers will feel that if you take the time to take care of the waiting area and bathroom, they know that their vehicle is in good hands. 

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Community Involvement

Top Shops give back. It’s that simple.

It’s about more than that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you’re helping others – although that’s great too! But your customers will notice your charitable acts and when you give to your community and the surrounding area.

Begin with a charity or a good cause that means a lot to you, personally. It also helps to find something unique – something that customers will remember.

Look around your town and you’ll no doubt be surprised by the endless opportunities to get your name out there through charitable causes in your community.

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For those bold enough to offer it, there’s something else you can give that, believe it or not, is often seen as more valuable than cash money: Your time.

Culture

Managers set the tone for their business and its culture helps attract the right people, but it can also be the reason why people leave. So, how do you create and keep a culture that breeds success? In a nutshell, you can keep employees happy with a welcoming culture.

It all begins with the leadership of an organization creating a positive workplace environment. Managers who have good leadership skills, provide solid direction and express a positive attitude can directly impact a company culture.

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A great company culture promotes a healthy work environment, which can keep employees happy and productive, lower operating costs and enhance customer satisfaction — all of which can positively impact your bottom line.

The ideal boss is like a role model — exemplifying the qualities that everyone in the company should possess. That way, everyone can work together as a team.

Empowerment is also a key contributor to employee satisfaction, so it’s important to give employees authority to make decisions and responsibility for their role.

A company mission statement is also a great starting point to set the tone for your culture. They’re essential in keeping a company’s employees focused and productive, and a can have a great effect on making the customers’ experience worthwhile and exceptional.

Madeleine Winer, managing editor of Tire Review, explains keys to a positive customer experience.

Customer Service

A seamless customer experience means providing friendly and quality service and being easy to do business with. Your customers rely on your shop’s expertise and knowledge to get the job done. And, nowadays, customers expect you to meet them on the platforms in which they want to interact with your dealership.

Many shops have implemented online scheduling and chat bots on their websites to start the conversation with customers digitally, with some shops providing vehicle pickup and drop-off services as an added convenience factor in the customer experience.

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The way your staff interacts with your customers plays a huge role. A quality customer experience means greeting them when they come into the shop with a smile, saying hello and hearing them out about their vehicle issues.

It continues with your service advisor asking questions to really understand the problems the customer is having with their vehicle, so that technicians can properly diagnose and repair it. It also means keeping in contact with them every step of the repair process. 

Don’t forget the fine-tuned details of a quality customer experience, like writing a thank you note to each new customer to show your appreciation.

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Providing quality customer service means taking responsibility for your customers’ concerns and caring for their vehicle as if it were your own. And, now more than ever, it means leveraging technology to be sure your customer is having a seamless, transparent experience with your shop.

David Sickels, associate editor for Tire Review, details the ways shops can display their expertise to customers.

Expertise

There are plenty of ways that you can set yourself apart from the other guys in marketing, appearance, community engagement, but how do you set yourself apart when it comes down to brass tacks, the reason you probably got started in this business in the first place – your expertise.

Provide a complete “car care solution” to the customers you serve.

Invest in your employees. Pay technicians an above-average wage plus commission, and regularly investing in the latest, state-of-the-art equipment and paid training opportunities.

Take advantage of any training opportunities offered through suppliers or industry associations whenever they arise.

Team up more experienced technicians with newer employees for instruction, and have a dedicated trainer and teacher in shop, who might also be the shop manager.

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Take advantage of partners like K&M. Attend meetings like this one to share best practices and learn firsthand the many ways to take your dealership to the next level.

Marketing

Attracting and retaining customers starts with quality customer service but really hinges on the marketing you deploy in your local area.

One of the most powerful pieces of marketing in our digital world nowadays is online reviews.  And, the good news is they’re free – you don’t have to pay to get them published. However, you should monitor them and respond to both good and bad reviews.

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Getting involved in your local Chamber of Commerce or sponsoring local events or sports teams helps get your shop’s name be top of mind.

In your marketing budget, earmark a portion of it for sponsorship opportunities and another portion for charitable giving. Remember, what you give back comes back to you.

An ever-increasing important part of your marketing should be your digital presence. This includes your website, your Google or Yelp review pages, Internet ads, and, of course, your social media efforts. Shops that stay connected with their digital-savvy customers via social media add another layer of engagement with their customer base.

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Your shop’s marketing strategy could encompass a myriad of platforms and channels. Knowing the ones to put your dollars toward takes some experimentation and a solid knowledge of your market. But whatever you do to get the word out about your shop, make it creative, engaging, fun and something that’s unique so customers can spot your brand in an instant.

Giveaways

The virtual show featured several prizes and games for attendees. These included:

• A John Deere XUV835 HVAC from Bridgestone/Firestone
• A Dodge Charger from Cooper/Mastercraft
• A Jeep Gladiator from Falken Tire
• A turn in a cash grab booth from Continental Tire
• A shot at “Bowling for Bucks” from Kumho Tire
• A Plinko cash drop game from Hankook Tire

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