A couple of years ago, Chicago was riddled with potholes through a long winter. After seeing customer after customer come in with blown tires and bent wheels we saw an opportunity-- and not just for the parts and service department. We saw an opportunity to better serve our customers.
Thus began our seasonal tire and wheel program. We began offering our customers a set of four winter tires mounted on steel wheels for a fixed price. The sale price also included storing the off-season wheels and tires at our dealership. In addition to the profit made from the initial sale, your dealership and your customers will see many other advantages from a seasonal wheel and tire program.
Some customer benefits include:
- Safety: Tirerack.com estimates that winter tires can improve braking on ice, snow and slush by as much as 25% or 2-3 car lengths.
- Insurance: Your customers get the piece of mind that when they do encounter a massive pothole, they wont need to replace an expensive OE aluminum wheel.
- Convenience: While customers can purchase winter tires at just about any tire retailer, the price of having tires swapped out and having to lug their off season tires back and forth twice a year is enough to deter most would be seasonal tire shoppers.
Benefits for the dealer:
- Customer retention: Because your customers are having their wheels and tires swapped out every spring and fall, this ensures they’ll be pulling into your service drive at least twice a year.
- Increased maintenance and recommended service sales: Coming in to have your wheels and tires swapped, why not get your oil changed while your there. And because the wheels are coming off, it also allows your technician to inspect the brakes while the cars in the air.
- Tire sales: Sooner or later your customer will need new tires, either on the winter set or on the summer set, or possibly both. Your service writers will have twice the opportunity to sell double the tires.
Our seasonal tire program became so popular that in spring and fall it wasn’t uncommon to see three or four wheel swaps a day. Offering your customers the option and convenience of having their off season wheels and tires stored at your location differentiates your service department from the dealer or tire shop down the road, creating customer added value for your dealership
Getting your seasonal tire program started is easy using the resources your parts department already has, and with winter fast approaching your customers will be happy you did.
By Richard Ward
Professional Parts Manager and Freelance Fixed Operations Writer