The independent tire dealer is always among tough competition. The major tire chains, mass merchandisers, and wholesale warehouses drive a very hard bargain and definitely claim the volume award when it comes to new tire sales.
How does the independent tire dealer stand out among its peers to appeal to consumers on the same level – in particular, how do you reach the females? Women are the majority purchasers of all automotive items in North America today, so if you’re looking to step up your sales figures, you’re going to need to reach women.
In this month’s Smart Selling column, we’re going to focus not on the tires, on the marketing approach, or even on the price – no, we’re going to start as simple as it gets: with your customer’s senses.
- We’re always told to not judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to customers, and female customers in particular, looks matter. Start with the outside. How’s your curb appeal? Does your location look clean, professional, and up-to-date? See that your building looks warm and welcoming, or women will drive right by. Replace run-down signage with new, friendly displays and communicate specials clearly in clean, eye-catching designs. Moving inside – don’t forget that the female customer takes looks into account here, too. A clean and well organized showroom is a good start, a comfortable waiting area is another step in the right direction, and a spotless bathroom is the icing on the cake.
- Now, I’m not going to tell you to silence your air wrenches. Auto shops do make noise – no, the sound I’m talking about is your telephone etiquette. Do you have a telephone answering script that you expect employees to use, or is any mumbled greeting of “Main Street Tire” good enough? Here’s a hint: It’s not good enough for the women. A proper telephone greeting has four main ingredients: Thanks for calling, the name of the business, an introduction, and an offer to help. “Good morning, thanks for calling Main Street tire, my name is Roger, how may I help you?” This simple adjustment shifts the tone of the customer’s telephone experience, you’ll find, and will make her much more likely to pursue a business relationship with you. For bonus points, learn her name and use it, even on the call. For instance: “Okay, I can help you with that – could I get your name please?” … “All right, Nancy, let me see what I can find for you. You said you drive a ’99 Camry, right?” These little adjustments become like a habit once you get into the swing of using them, and the results you will see may surprise you.
- I’ll keep this one brief, because I think the details speak for themselves. Auto shops, by their nature, just don’t smell great. Taking steps to ensure your showroom, waiting area, and definitely the restroom smell clean and neutral are as important as the looks of these areas. Plus: don’t forget your customers’ cars! Using paper floor mat covers and spraying the vehicle with a neutral, natural odor eliminator will create a more pleasant after-purchase experience.
- I’m not talking about taste here – I’m talking about word of mouth. Generally speaking, if a woman has a bad experience at a retailer, she won’t complain to the manager. She’ll complain to her friends. Bad word-of-mouth can spread like wildfire, and will most definitely impact your bottom line. Conversely – going the extra mile to make your female customers feel comfortable, welcome, and taken care of will certainly be something she wants to talk about. A satisfied woman customer will pull no punches when it comes to her buying experience, and her friends will trust her advice implicitly. Attending to the other items listed here will decide whether she tells her friends to avoid you at all costs, or to “Go to Roger at Main Street, he really went out of his way to help me!”