With more information available now than ever before at our fingertips, customers may come into your store thinking they know the exact tire they want.
Sure, they may have done their research, but there is so much to consider when purchasing tires, especially the all-season variety that many keep on their car year-round.
We spoke with Jan Simonsen, senior director of retail operations for Belle Tire, on best practices when selling a set of all-season tires. So, the next time you’re at the counter with the customer looking to sell that set of all-season tires, use the following four tips to lead the conversation.
1. Understand Their Driving Habits
Before you make any tire recommendation, ask open-ended questions to find out what the customer needs and is looking for, Simonsen says.
For example, questions like, “how do you feel driving your current tires?” and “what did you like about them?” lead the customer to give specific feedback, such as “they did great in the rain but not in the snow.” Also ask about their driving habits. If they’re a commuter – driving to their job, around town and simply using their vehicle for transportation – a standard all-season tire may be the right fit. But, if the customer is an enthusiast or has a sports car, your recommendation should change.
2. Consider Their Driving Conditions
Another important aspect of the conversation should include the conditions in which the customer will be driving, Simonsen says. Ask about the kind of roads they frequent: Do they live in a city? Are they driving on a highway? In rural areas or in a mountainous region? As a rule of thumb, Simonsen says if a customer lives in an environment that gets enough snow and has temperatures below 45° F (7° C) consistently, an all-season tire may not be the right fit.
3. Emphasize the Tire, Not the Price
To really help the customer understand the value of the tires they’re investing in, explain the benefits they’ll see when driving on the tire, Simonsen says.
For example, a common characteristic in today’s all-season tires is 3-D or interlocking siping (small slits in the tire’s tread block), which increases traction in wet weather and snow. Circumferential grooves (often the deepest grooves in the tire) also help evacuate water. You can explain that different tires have different types of compounds, and all-season tires with a higher silica content will provide increased traction and make the tire more pliable in colder conditions, if that’s what the customer is looking for, Simonsen explains.
During your explanation of the tire’s benefits, connect the customer’s needs with what the tire provides, regardless of the brand and price. The price of the tire should be one of the last things discussed in a conversation with a customer.
4. Talk About Their Budget
Many customers will ask about the bottom line right away. That’s understandable. Tires are an expensive, reluctant purchase, and they want to know what they’re getting into. Simonsen says handle the price question with care.
“The big question we need to overcome is the perceived value of tires. We’re trained to focus on pricing. Many customers ask, ‘how many miles are those rated for’ when looking for tires,’” says Simonsen. “It’s our job to educate customers not solely on price and mileage, but also on other benefits like handling and wet-weather traction… We see what works and what doesn’t on a daily basis and we can provide the wisdom and expertise.”
If your shop offers financing options, be sure to review those if a customer balks at the price.
But, if the customer is curious about optimizing their safety, especially in cold temperatures, go in for the upsell. Explain your shop’s options for winter tires, and the wheels and new TPMS sensors that go along with the investment, to give them a picture of the total value of their purchase.
Check out the rest of the May digital edition of Tire Review here.