Would an increase in sales help?
Last month I attended the best Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show ever. I gave more and received more — funny how that works.
The SEMA Wheel and Tire Council (WTC) asked me to speak about new trends. In preparation for my presentation, I did some thorough investigating. There are a lot of trends in our industry in a wide variety of categories. The attendees of the WTC meeting were primarily interested in wheel and tire trends; therefore, I began my research on Google and in magazines, along with interviewing a number of key individuals in the industry: manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
As I researched, my excitement in the presentation grew and grew. My focus shifted from identifying trends to educating the attendees on how to identify trends. Rather than reporting, I was now educating. It’s one thing to know something generally, and yet another to learn something specifically.
During my presentation, I spoke specifically about several life experiences in the industry, along with instructions on how Google can easily and accurately assist in the spotting and confirming of new trends. There was an energy that was awakened in the room because many eyes were opened to specific marketing analysis found on Google that would help the wheel and tire channel grow their businesses.
It’s exciting to grow your business based on sound data, to structure a simple plan based on an emerging or established trend. The room was filled with pre-Baby Boomers, Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials, and there was a lot of participation. Why? Because learning is fun, our industry is fun, new trends are fun and growing your business is fun.
Here’s the point of my article this month: The retail tire business can be a grind, challenging, exhausting, and everyone is susceptible to some level of burnout.
Not everybody I met at the SEMA Show was excited; a number seemed burnt-out, the same-stuff-different-year crowd. If you used to love this industry, but you now find it exhausts you emotionally or physically; if you are accomplishing less than you used to; if your commitment to the hours or the details is waning — then maybe you’re feeling cynical towards customers, clients and employees. If you are irritable in traffic or waiting in lines, you find yourself angry or lashing out at people, you could be suffering from burnout. Retail is a tough gig!
Get yourself out of a rut
What you need is a trend tune-up. Exploring the opportunities that new trends may afford your business can be exciting; at the very least, it could be the way out of a rut. You need to stop and learn something new, do a little research, explore some possibilities. Ask for some input from someone younger or older than yourself, someone you trust, someone enthusiastic who may have a vested interest in your success.
Explore a few options. Maybe you could re-merchandise a corner of your showroom and display a few new products, freshen up your display of tires or wheels, contact a potential new wheel or suspension vendor.
Maybe you could begin selling ATV or UTV tires and wheels and possibly some associated products. Off-road enthusiasts that participate in ATV/UTV activities tow their vehicles in/on trailers with trucks and SUVs, which could improve your sales of trailer tires and off-road truck tires and wheels.
I’m a long-time magazine and book reader, and a specialist at clipping articles. To help make my point, I’d like to refer to an article I clipped from a business magazine over 10 years ago, an interview with then CEO of Home Depot, Bob Nardelli.
He was referring to a book titled “The Experience Economy” that he re-read shortly after becoming the CEO. He was charged with increasing sales in a $50 billion company. He said he learned in the book that the “new competitive arena was the customer’s experience.”
He sighted an experiment with a handful of stores to improve the customers’ experience by making the environment more inviting. They increased lighting (some tire stores are so dark and dreary), they improved the floor covering (some tire store floors are stained with black rings from tire sidewalls), and they made signs clearer and less cluttered (too often visual pollution assaults customer senses in many tire stores).
Home Depot was in the beginning stages of selling appliances. The following comment from Nardelli pretty much sums up my point: “Results? Consider appliances. In stores where we have enhanced our presentation, sales have increased 22%.”
Experiment with new products. Experiment with the environment. Experiment with the presentation. See the results in a sales increase.
How fun is that? ■
Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.