Americans’ travel plans mean dealers should double down on tire sales


Airlines have capped their in-flight capacity and scheduled flights are down as much as 70%. The impeded ability to travel by air will disrupt holiday plans for many Americans. However, the Hankook Tire Gauge Index from October 2020 reveals that nearly three-quarters of Americans still plan to travel this holiday season, and 76% of them will drive – rather than fly – for safety reasons.

But for many vehicles that will be heading on the road, safety is put into question with their tires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association reported 738 deaths in the US in 2017 alone that are directly impacted by unsafe tires, and 11,000 tire-related crashes altogether. Research from the NHTSA found that almost half of vehicles on the road have at last one tire worn to half or less, but 10% have at least one bald tire.

With rain or snow likely for many areas during peak holiday travel times, dealers should be getting serious about tire safety now. The service department, obviously, must lead the charge.

How Dealers Can Promote Tire Sales

Tires are a loss leader for almost all stores. Margins are thin on the product if dealerships want to be competitive and retain the sales, and installation charges barely cover the cost of labor and overhead. Yet, making the sale has a deep impact on customer retention. Currently, dealers hold less than 10% of the market on tire sales in the US, allowing customers to defect to the aftermarket. Keeping tire sales in the store is one of the fundamentals.

Find or Film a Tire Safety Video

Video engagement is king in the advertising realm right now. Timely videos with content that’s important to your customers can drive a response to action. There are plenty of tire safety videos on YouTube that you can send out in an email campaign, wrapped in text about why it’s important.

Better yet, create an engaging video featuring one or more of your team members. Demonstrate side-by-side comparisons of how tires perform when they’re new compared to half-worn or worn out, for example. Have fun with it. And with someone on your team featured, it adds even more relatability with the viewer.

Do not forget a call to action!

Perform Service Drive Audits

Managers, you preach about walkarounds for every vehicle, every time. It’s time to not just enforce the walkaround, but ensure they’re done right. Perform spot checks on vehicles coming through the service drive to ensure your advisors aren’t missing opportunities to sell tires. It’s much more than just tire sales, we know. Related brake, suspension, and steering work often come from tire work.

Create Good-Better-Best Options for All Models

Rather than making customers wait for tire options and quotes, have a few ready at the service desk for all of the models in your manufacturer’s lineup. Use the good-better-best style that can put a price range in your customer’s head immediately. If they pick an option and it’s out of stock, you have a place to work from in finding a replacement. Sometimes a printed sheet is more effective than the online tire selector tool because it’s more focused.

Add a ‘Decline’ Labor Op

Tires are legitimately a safety component. So, if customers decline tire replacement and they are near the end of their usable life, record it on the repair order. When the customers receives their invoice, they’ll read an official comment on it that they’ve declined to address their worn-out tires. Not only does it provide a level of protection for you as a dealership, but it may spur the customer into action.

It isn’t all about profit, although that is important. By making a stronger effort to sell tires for your customers this fall, you’re helping keep the roads safer.

Did you enjoy this article from Jason Unrau? Read other articles from him here.

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