As I sat with the pedal to the floor looking out onto ice, I couldn’t help thinking this isn’t right. I shouldn’t have my right foot flat on the floor. How have I only hit 10 mph and why does that feel so fast? Most importantly, why am I driving a Lexus ES350 on a hockey rink? Surely I’m going to drive/slide into the boards.
This was just one of many winter tire experiences I had during the introduction of Bridgestone Americas’ newest tire, the Blizzak WS80, in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Before the trip, I thought my 4-wheel drive crossover vehicle outfitted with all-season tires was more than enough for the winter conditions here in Northeast Ohio. Now, after my trip, I think I’ll be investing in a set of winter tires next season.
In addition to driving on an indoor ice rink, media at the introduction also had the chance to check out Bridgestone’s Winter Driving School. While the ice rink was used to “simulate” a black ice experience, the driving school showcased real world conditions.
The Bridgestone Winter Driving School, which has been open since 1983, features three different courses that are built new each season. The track is coated with more than 250,000 gallons of water and has banked and off-camber corners with numerous elevation changes.
In addition to driving the Winter Driving School’s courses on the WS80, I also had the chance to drive on Michelin’s X-Ice Xi3, Goodyear’s Ultra Grip Ice WRT all on the Lexus ES350. I also drove a Lexus RX350 outfitted with Blizzak DM-V1 tires.
Despite my one casualty, (RIP orange cone) I know all four tires were far superior than my all-season tires when it came to driving on the wintery mix.
Just days before I went to Colorado we experienced heavy snow in Akron. As I drove my short commute to work I found my moderately worn tires (25,000 miles-ish) slipping and sliding in the 4-5 inches of snowy slush.
If I had attempted to drive on my all-season tires the way we drove the winter tires on the Winter Driving School courses, I don’t doubt I would have run into a snow bank or spun my car.
What does this mean for you? Like I’ve said before, I’m your fairly average customer. If my mind can change about winter tires so can your customers.
How can you convince your customers to buy winter tires, when having them test a set out is not a viable or a profitable option?
My No. 1 piece of advice would be to show them the difference between all-season and winter tires. Put up videos on your social media sites or in your store showcasing the two tires ability in the different wintery conditions.
Share the value of the winter tire. Not only will it make travel during the cold safer for them and their family, they’ll also get longer life out of their summer or all-season tire.
Another way you could entice customers to purchase winter tires is to have a place to store their all-season or summer tires when not in use. If I have to keep my tires in my garage because someone won’t store them for me, I won’t be purchasing winter tires.
If cost is a factor, share this information with them. According to Bridgestone, you can get a set of winter tires for about $1.47 a day, less than the cost of your morning coffee. Sounds like a deal to me.
It may be near the end of your winter tire season, but it’s never too early to work on sales pitches for next year.
What do you think? What are some strategies you’ve used in the past to sell winter tires to customers? How do you convince people to get winter tires when it doesn’t snow a lot and just gets cold? Leave a comment below.