The Art of Selling
Over the last several months, you have learned about the technical aspects of custom wheels. Now, it’s time to develop your selling skills.
In this first of a two-part segment, we’ll discuss ways to market your business and gain marketshare in your area using custom wheels. Then we’ll show you how to begin a sale, guide a customer through selecting a wheel, and, finally, closing the deal.
First, a word of caution: the wheel business is constantly changing. What was popular yesterday may not be so hot today. It’s like fashion. Not every wheel looks right on every vehicle. Developing a sense for what "looks" good will send your bottom line skyrocketing.
Creating and nurturing an image as a custom wheel dealer is key to attracting customers to your shop. Simple changes like adding "& Wheels" or "Performance Tires and Wheels" to your business name will instantly draw people. Create an exciting logo people can associate with your business. Offer windshield visor strips and vinyl graphics for those who purchase wheels from you now you have an instant rolling billboard.
And do you know where your new customer is going to go? Straight to their friends and to car shows and to the race track. The list of exponential opportunities goes on. How much did that piece of plastic lettering cost you? About $2. How much business will you generate from it? And remember, every two out of three sets of wheels sold will include a profitable tire sale.
Here are some other ideas that can drive customers through your door:
®′ Promote wheel sales in your Yellow Pages ad
®′ Have an annual or semi-annual sale. Invite your suppliers to participate and bring a truckload of wheels to your store. Set up in the parking lot and offer special deals and incentives. Pre-event advertising will greatly enhance the results by preparing people to come.
®′ Take your business where the prospects are. Go to local car shows and set up a display. If you have 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.
®′ Offer your employees an incentive by allowing them to buy a set of wheels and tires for their personal vehicle at a discount if they meet sales goals. Perhaps an annual bonus of a free set to the top salesman. Put a set on your vehicle to promote, as well. Every few months change to the latest style.
®′ If you have windows facing the street, place a display rack in the window and illuminate with spotlights at night. You wouldn’t believe how many people stop and look at night. Try it and see if people don’t start calling and asking about a particular wheel they saw the evening before.
®′ Neon lights are great to attract attention as well. Remember, you’re trying to get your store noticed and making a potential customer want to know what’s so special about your store. Make it easy for them to see.
®′ Think about joining your local dealer association, TANA/ITRA and, if you are not already a member, SEMA. And you need to go to the ITE/SEMA Show in Las Vegas at least every other year to get a look at the latest wheel styles and types, learn about the hot new tires on the market, and get in-store display and marketing ideas.
®′ Put the wheels where they can be seen. Don’t buy old discarded wheels just to hang on the wall. Customers expect that what’s on display is the hot selling item, and will want to purchase them if they happen to like the style. Telling a customer that a wheel isn’t available anymore just discourages them. Maintain a fresh display.
®′ Work with your suppliers to keep the newest styles on display. Expect to invest a minimum of $500 to get two or three wheel displays going. When displaying wheels, bigger is always better. The more styles that you can have, the greater the chance you’ll catch someone’s attention, which could lead to a sale.
®′ With all the advertising and promotions bringing potential customers to your store, invest in some inventory to have on hand for impulsive buyers. They usually show up with a pocketful of cash and are anxious to give it to someone quickly. Sometimes, they’ll buy wheels just because they can get them immediately and not have to wait even a day for a style that they may like better.
Depending on your market area, here are some suggestions as to the mix of wheels to stock.
®′ Chrome plated 17-inch 5-100/4.5 and 17-inch 4-100/4.5 high positive offset.
®′ In a metro market, 17- and 20-inch high positive offset chrome wheels and a set of 17-inch 4-100/4.5 silver street or sport compact tuner style wheels.
®′ For the trucks, a set of 15-inch 5-5, 16-inch 6-5.5 and 5-135 in areas where direct replacement of the OE wheels is more prevalent, and 20-inch 5-5, 6-5.5 and 5-135 in areas where larger wheel packages are common.
Remember to have the right tires in stock, as well. Keep a set each of 205/40R17, 215/45R17, 245/35R20, 255/35R20, 275/45R20 and 285/50R20 on hand. Promote these sizes to attract the young buyers with the disposable income to spend on their rides.
If you have the space, stack the sets of wheels on the floor. If space is limited, store three wheels and set one on a display rack. This way, you’ll also know what is in stock at all times. And, use package deals to offer the customer a break for purchasing the tires and wheels together.
Now that you have a formula for attracting new customers, next month be prepared to jump into the sale. Until then, start working on your promotional plans.