Gone are the days of the smell of rubber wafting through showrooms, using pencil and paper to write up repair orders and having customers walk up to the counter to interact with your staff. According to Tire Pros, the future is digital, and the 600-plus dealer group is rethinking the customer experience, which culminates into technology and tools Tire Pros executives and dealers refer to as “The Showroom of the Future.”
“We want to be the trendsetters,” said Ryan Goff, incoming 2022 president of the National Tire Pros Dealer Council and general manager of Roger’s Tire Pros with two locations in Idaho. “I believe Tire Pros dealers are the best out there, and we should be setting the standard. People should be looking at us as the innovators to see the way the business is trending.”
Tire Pros unveiled how it sees the business trending in its “Showroom of the Future” products, which dealers experienced for the first time during the group’s annual Dealer Conference from Oct. 12-14 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Dealers participated in educational breakout sessions, a vendor fair and a Women of Tire Pros event during the three-day community-building conference. Most importantly, Tire Pros unveiled its three-year plan toward a more digital future, which aims to create a more seamless customer experience with dealer locations through digital tire displays, self-service kiosks and more.
“We want to create an easy and flexible customer experience,” said Tire Pros President Greg Bell. “This is the start to connect the dots from what our dealers are hearing from their customers today and how they can help their customers moving forward.”
This “trendsetting” outlook for Tire Pros kicked off about a year ago when dealers came to the organization with a few hot-button questions as businesses started to reopen after pandemic shutdowns: “How can we move forward and differentiate ourselves?” and “How can we get better?” dealers asked.
Goff and Steven Moss, current National Dealer Council president and co-owner of two locations of Wilson’s Tire Pros & Automotive in North Carolina, said the National Dealer Council and Tire Pros executives dug deep into customer data and partnered with outside marketing and research firms to find answers. First, they wanted to understand today’s consumer and their needs, then they focused on what consumers might need in the future, Bell said. This helped Tire Pros form a strategic roadmap, which included updating its logo and creating the new tagline, “Love the Drive,” to set off its vision for the future.
“We want to create an emotional connection with Tire Pros consumers,” Bell explained, adding that part of this is in the way dealers interact both in-person and digitally with customers. “We want to maximize their love of driving.”
Creating the ‘Showroom of the Future’
At the center of its vendor trade show, Tire Pros displayed its “Showroom of the Future” products at a Business Solutions Pavilion, which was a hub of activity during the conference. Bell said that many of the technologies build on the products that Tire Pros’ business management software, created in partnership with Tire Guru, already offers.
For example, the group already has online appointment functions, text updates and text-to-pay features integrated into its proprietary POS system. Now, they’re enhancing its functions to allow repair orders to generate automatically that all link back to a customer portal, which gives consumers a transparent view into their vehicle repairs.
Brett Nix, director of franchise development, gave members of the trade media a tour of the gadgets that are meant to “create more of a social connection” and “allow consumers to transact in their own way” with dealer businesses.
“Today’s the starting line for how Tire Pros enters the market,” Nix declared. “We want to digitally connect with the consumer and build that social relationship that extends beyond the brick-and-mortar location.”
He started by explaining the consumer portal, which is at the center of the customer experience. Through the portal, customers can create appointments, view their past transactions with the shop, see results from digital vehicle inspections as well as services due on their vehicle by navigating through different tabs. He added that all “Showroom of the Future” products integrate with the customer portal.
The first “Showroom of the Future” product was a red locker with a touchscreen monitor that is a self-service key drop-off and pick-up kiosk. This allows customers with or without an appointment to drop off (or pick up) their keys after hours when they get their vehicle serviced. When the consumer starts the transaction, the monitor gives them a QR code, which they can scan with their camera, that takes them to a website to create a repair ticket that can be linked to their customer portal. The customer then inputs what service the vehicle needs and leaves any notes for the shop. Then, a locker on the kiosk opens where the customer can store their keys securely. After this, the shop gets an email or text notification that a customer has dropped off their keys and can follow up with them accordingly—whether or not they had an appointment.
“You can walk up create your own [repair] ticket,” Goff chimed in, praising the device for its ability to save store employees time by automatically capturing customer information.
When it’s time for the customer to pick up their vehicle, they can opt to pay through the customer portal or text-to-pay and have their keys waiting to pick up in the locker without ever stepping foot in the store.
“We’re creating convenience features to make it so that instead of you adapting to us, we adapt to you,” Goff said.
Next, Nix showed off Tire Pros’ digital tire wall. This can be an interactive screen, where the customer answers questions about their vehicle, or be set up as a wall with removable tiles that list the tire’s name, show a photo of its tread and a QR code, which customers can scan with their phone’s camera and find out more information, including a video about its features.
“You can offer so much more than just the tire,” said Moss, current National Dealer Council president who attended the trade show with his wife, Susan, who is a majority owner of their business.
Susan added: “Our stores are in a college town, and as far as the next generation and others coming up, mobile is their lifeline.”
Next, Nix demonstrated a 3-D interactive map that he said embodies Tire Pros new slogan, “Love the Drive.” With this interactive screen, customers can check out attractions, such as restaurants, cafés and shopping, near a Tire Pros location.
To continue the digital experience, Nix rounded the corner of the booth to a video wall display, which consists of four screens that the dealer can program with different promotional material. “This eliminates the whole POS sales kit,” he explained. “It’s all digital now.” He also highlighted a workflow screen, which dealers can hang in their showroom to display where a customer’s vehicle is in the service process as well as a services screen, which further explains common vehicle services to customers in an educational interactive display.
Lastly, showroom fixtures, such as logoed kiosks and updated waiting areas were situated throughout the business pavilion to show dealers the new furniture they could have in their shop. Nix said dealers could order kiosks with wheels in order to promote mobility within the store and outside.
“It creates for a much more inviting and open experience,” Bell noted about the kiosks. “Our national dealer council members have raved about the ease, convenience and flexibility they create, which allows for their associates to engage with consumers and come out from behind a counter.”
Nix explained that Tire Pros and its dealer council partnered with Process Retail Group, a retail marketing activation company based out of New Berlin, Wis., to create these digitally connected technologies. Goff and Moss said that products displayed at the Business Pavilion are a testament to the power of being a part of the Tire Pros family.
“It’s definitely cutting-edge because as an independent, you don’t have access to these things,” Goff said. “So, this brings the availability of what a large retailer can do to the independent. It’s a game-changer for sure.”