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Passenger/Light Truck

Marketing Wheels

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Over the last several months, you’ve learned a great deal about new products.

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That’s good, but if you don’t have the right product or, worse, too much of the wrong product, you can’t close a deal.

Now, it’s time to develop your business and selling skills. In this first of a two-part segment, we’ll discuss ways to market your business and gain marketshare in your area. Then, we’ll show you how to begin a sale, guide a customer through wheel selection and finally close the sale.

First, a word of caution: The wheel business is constantly changing. What was popular yesterday may not be toda ®“ literally. It’s akin to fashion. Plus, not every wheel looks right on every vehicle. Developing a taste for what looks good will send your business and bottom line soaring.

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Bang for the Buck

Marketing your business and creating a performance image are key components in attracting customers to your store. Simple changes, such as adding “And Wheels” or ®Performance Wheels and Tires® to your business name should instantly draw people. Create an exciting logo that people will associate with your business.

Offer windshield visor strips and/or vinyl graphics for those who purchase wheels from you ®“ an instant rolling billboard! And, guess where your new customer is going to go? Straight to friends, car shows and the race track. And that piece of plastic lettering only cost you about $2 each ®“ a small investment for potentially thousands in new sales.

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How much business can you generate from each graphic? Probably another two to three sets of wheels. And, remember, every two out of three sets of wheels you sell will likely include a heafty tire purchase.

 

Promoting a Wheel Line

Here are some other ideas that, if done right, will have customers knocking down your doors. Develop a plan incorporating some of these ideas as soon as possible:

®′ Promote wheel ®“ and HP tire ®“ sales in your Yellow Pages and newspaper ads.

®′ Use radio promotions, especially for big events, such as grand openings.

®′ Have an annual or semi-annual sale. Invite your suppliers to participate and bring a truckload of tires and wheels to your store. Set up in the parking lot, and offer special deals and incentives. Pre-event advertising will greatly enhance the results because people come prepared to buy. I don’t recommend promoting the event as just a car show. Rather, promote the selection of styles and the deals.

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®′ Take your business to the people. Go to local car shows and set up displays. If there’s a race track nearby, promote there, as well. Get connected with local car clubs and offer them a trade discount, just as you would for a fleet account.

For an in-depth look at an “autorave” promotion, refer to the Performance Tire & Custom Wheel Guide included with this issue. It is packed full of insightful information.

®′ Offer your employees an incentive by allowing them to buy a set of wheels and tires for their personal vehicle for a reduced cost if they meet sales or performance goals. Perhaps offer an annual bonus or a free set of wheels or tires to the top performers. Put a set on your vehicle, as well. Sell them every few months and be sure to change them to reflect the latest styles.

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®′ If you have windows facing the street, place a display rack in those windows and illuminate the rack with spotlights at night. You won’t believe how many people will stop and look. Try it, and see if people don’t start calling and asking about a particular wheel that they saw the evening before.

Neon lights are effective in attracting attention, too. Take a look back at the July 2003 Tire Review for display ideas that draw customers into your store. Remember, you are trying to get your store noticed by making a potential customer want to know what’s so special about your store.

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Think about how overwhelmed you feel at the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas. If you haven’t been to the show, you need to go at least once.

It’s also a good idea to be a part of this organization. You can discover many product, sales and display ideas, both large and small, and determine which is best for your store.

 

Fresh Displays

The next step is to display custom wheels and tires where they can be seen. But don’t display out-of-date wheels. Customers tend to assume that the wheel on display is the hot-selling item, and they will want to purchase one if they like the style. Telling a customer that a wheel isn’t available (because it hasn’t been made in two years!) discourages them. Work with your suppliers to keep the newest styles on display.

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Another tip: With wheel displays, bigger is always better. The more styles you have in stock, the greater the chance you will catch someone’s attention, potentially leading to a sale. Same with UHP tires.

 

Smart Stocking

With all this new advertising and promotions bringing potential customers into your store, be sure to stock some additional inventory for impulse buyers. They usually show up with a pocketful of cash and, sometimes, they will buy a wheel just because they can get it immediately.

Although your stocking strategy should be based on your individual market area, here are some basic suggestions about which wheels to stock.

First, you may want to consider offering chrome-plated, 17-inch 5-100/4.5 and 17-inch 4-100/4.5 high positive offset wheels. In a metro market, 17-inch and 20-inch high positive offset chrome wheels and 17-inch 4-100/4.5 painted tuner-style wheels are good stocking choices.

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For trucks, stock a set of 16-inch 6-5.5 and 5-135 in areas where direct replacement of OE wheels is more prevalent, and 20-inch 6-5.5 and 5-135 in areas where large wheel packages are common. Start stocking the 6-135 for the new Ford trucks, as well. I can remember when one had to spend $4,000 to have a set of 20s. Now, 20-inchers are the norm.

Most importantly, remember to have the right tires in stock. Keep a set each of 205/40R17, 215/45R17, 255/35R20, 275/45R20 and 275/55R20 on hand. For the urban market, you’ll need a set of 22-inch tires.

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Most people know that we can get a set of 20-inchers on a Honda Accord now. They want bigger, so be prepared. Promote these sizes to attract the young buyers with the disposable income to spend for these tires and wheels. If you have the space, stack the wheels on the floor. If space is limited, however, store three wheels and set one on a display rack. That way, you know what’s in stock at all times. Also, use package deals to offer the customer a break for purchasing the tires and wheels from you.

Now that you have a formula for attracting new customers, be prepared to jump into the sale. We’ll cover that next month, in part two. Until then, start brushing up on your promotional plans.

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