As consumer expectations climb and the competitive landscape increases in complexity, company-owned tire stores are rethinking their approach to business and how they can best serve customers. Currently, Bridgestone is experimenting with a new customer-centric retail service approach they refer to as Vision 2020.
In late June, Bridgestone Retail Operations (BSRO) opened the doors of its St. Charles, Ill., location to Tire Review to reveal its latest iteration of Vision 2020. This unique “lab shop” is an existing 10-bay Firestone Complete Auto Care location that has been redesigned around new retail and service concepts for further testing.
According to Stu Crum, chairman and president of BSRO, the driving force behind the innovations is to increase trust with each transaction.
“Trust is the number one thing for us,” said Crum. “We have a trust issue in this industry. If we can’t infuse trust within our business with consumers, we can’t win.”
The Vision 2020 journey began two years ago as part of a long-term strategic plan to improve customer service. With the plan, Bridgestone aims to build trust and life-long loyal relationships within the communities they serve.
The reengineering of Bridgestone’s retail approach is based on customer satisfaction scores, consumer trends, data and feedback. Based on that information, the team set out to develop new ways of doing business that they hope will significantly increase customer value over time.
According to Chris Blanchette, director of operations (technical and innovation) with BSRO, the three main goals were to: increase the transparency so customers had a clearer understanding of each interaction; increase the speed of services provided, adding conveniences to enhance the experience and have the ability to scale the best innovations across the network of stores – eventually to partners.
Vision 2020 innovations include: store-within-a-store areas promoting partner brands; centralized “island” waiting areas; kiosks instead of counters; staff training for a more consultative approach; touch screens with animation to better explain repairs; expanded retail areas; and concierge greeters to enhance the experience.
Need for Speed
One of the more interesting innovations is the ability to get a 45-minute oil change and inspection down to just over 11 minutes – and that’s with no floor pit. Multiple technicians are trained on specific tasks perform in exact sequence to shave minutes off the clock. The team compares the choreography required to running football formations.
To further reduce repair time, the Vision 2020 shop begins the service process before the customer has fully completed the transaction inside. Consumers walk away with an alignment check, code scan, tire inspection, battery test, air pressure test, interior vacuum and clean floor mats – even if they choose not to buy.
BSRO plans to continue testing new ideas, rolling out successful Vision 2020 concepts to its 2,200+ company-owned stores across North America.