More than doubling the size of its Dealer Conference just two years ago, Point S USA welcomed over 350 dealers and their families to the Paradise Point Resort in San Diego, California, for its 2020 Dealer Conference, Feb. 20-22. While the co-op celebrated the addition of 19 stores in four new states last year, a large focus has been not only on recruitment but also on building its technological muscle, which it believes gives dealers the upper hand in a competitive marketplace.
“We believe technology is the future for the independent tire dealer,” said Walter Lybeck, president and CEO of Point S USA Tire & Auto, in his opening remarks to dealers. “What we’re looking to do is save you costs, give you an opportunity for sales and new customers and help you run your business with the tools that are optional to you. These are designed by independents for independents.”
Updating dealers on the state of the co-op, Lybeck said together, Point S dealers increased the organization’s sales by 10%, reported record profits in 2019 and invested in new technology that will serve dealers and the way consumers want to interact with their business for years to come.
Point S launched its proprietary shop management and customer communication tool that allows dealers to communicate with customers and track their shop’s efficiency digitally. The All-Trac Platform, announced at last year’s conference, underwent some changes and is now available to be used in Point S stores as an all-in-one platform for shop operations.
“You’ve got so many people constantly barraging you with buying this system and that system…but the problem is, everybody else can buy that same system. And how many times do these technologies work together?” asked Steve Helstrom, director of information technology and operations for Point S USA. “Every time you add one of these, you waste an hour of your day. Shouldn’t you have that hour to better promote your business and make your customers happy instead of sitting in a back room trying to figure out how to get all this technology tied together?”
Helstrom said All-Trac integrates with the organization’s Traction POS system and features:
- Online appointment scheduling: Customers can schedule appointments through a dealership’s website, and dealers can accept appointments through the platform as well. It also automatically sends appointment reminders to customers the day before they’re due in the shop.
- Text communication: Dealers can send inspection reports and communicate with customers about repairs via text. The platform also allows customers to authorize a work order via text and communicate with the shop in real-time.
- Bay Monitor: Dealers can see which jobs are done, in progress and up next in order to distribute work evenly among employees.
- Service Advisor View: Service advisors can see a customer’s history with the shop, current work orders and inspection reports as well as communicate with customers via text.
- Technician View: Through a tablet, the technician can see work orders from the shop floor and create vehicle inspection reports, using the tablet to add photos to reports and write additional notes for both the shop and customer to see.
- Customer Reviews: When a work order is completed, the system sends a text to garner customer reviews—either prompting customers who’ve given a positive rating to review the business on Google or allow the dealer to address any issues that may have occurred.
“Customers absolutely demand this from you,” Helstrom said. “You can win new customers with it. You can have existing customers continue to stick with your business… There’re so many opportunities for your role with your customers. This is your platform.”
In addition, the All-Trac Platform gives dealers a performance dashboard that details the time it takes to complete each job per technician and overall ratings on jobs and technicians in order to help drive profit.
Coming later this year, Helstrom said a customer rewards system will be added to the platform to further increase customer retention. The system will allow customers to use their rewards at any Point S store across the U.S.
Point S also unveiled new in-store merchandising through its Point S Connect strategy, aimed at enhancing the in-store experience and redefining the look of a store’s lobby.
Clint Young, COO of Point S USA, and Devin Barr, marketing director for Point S USA/MBT Tire Marketing, debuted digital display TVs that will be distributed to Point S dealers for free. These screens will take the place of posters in the shop lobby and show customers the organization’s latest promotions, warranties and more that emphasize “No Stress with Point S.”
Content on the screens will be updated monthly via a cloud-based platform, Barr said. Dealers also have the option to include custom content on the display.
“There’s not going to be traditional point-of-sale delivery anymore,” Barr said. “Now, we can automatically push the promotional content [to you]. We can help elevate directly, so you guys don’t have to worry about getting a box delivered and unpacked in a timely matter.”
As part of the Point S Connect strategy, Barr and Young also showcased Point S TV, branded content that connects to a lobby TV that will also display promotions, Point S marketing messages, the organization’s ever-changing map and more. Point S TV, which will cost $50 for the cloud-based system, will be available to dealers in Q2 this year, Barr said.
“It’s the same technology that does into both [the digital displays and TVs]. We’re calling them our connected devices,” Barr said. “It’s already preloaded and attached to the internet, so it’s just a simple plug and play.”
With these new technologies available to Point S dealers, Point S CEO Lybeck presented a challenge to dealers: “Adopt two new technologies that you’re either uncomfortable with or have never used before. Try them out, make mistakes and see how it goes.”
During the conference, Point S hosted numerous speakers and training sessions to give dealers and their families tools to take back to the shop. Sessions included:
- Richard J. Bryan, keynote speaker and executive coach, shared how he, with the help of a business coach, turned his family’s car dealership from in the red to a thriving business, defining his role as a leader in the process and achieving consistent growth. He also shared how he created a successful exit plan when he was ready to sell his family’s fourth-generation car dealership and offered tips for how dealers can do the same.
- Bob Cooper, president of Elite Worldwide, shared with dealers how they can bring the best out of their people.
- Mike McKee, northwestern U.S. region manager for Hunter Engineering Co., discussed servicing ADAS.
- Lauren Alleman, vice president, digital channels manager at Bank of America, delved into cybersecurity and how shops can stay safe in the digital age.
Throughout the conference, attendees had the chance to network with Point S vendors during a two-day trade show. Point S capped off its dealer conference with a celebration dinner aboard the USS Midway, a historical naval aircraft carrier museum located in downtown San Diego.
The 2021 Point S Dealer Conference will take place in Hawaii from Feb. 17-21.