Go get sales instead of waiting on them
Stop and think about this for a moment: Conventional wisdom tells us that a retail operation — your independent tire dealership — is designed for walk-in traffic. So you spend money as an owner or manager on building a great store experience, attempting to drive in traffic with advertising, promotions, merchandising and signage. And all the while you’re keeping the search on for the next winning location for expansion. All good. Continue those efforts,
However, let’s talk about a “golden goose” for your store sales, a whole new level that will blow out your financials.
In my last article, I challenged you and your team to “leave your store,” specifically for the store managers to take some time each week to go out and call on local, targeted businesses to introduce their store and invite potential customers to come in for tires and service. Let me emphasize, my solutions are not theory, but a real challenge that I have seen work countless times.
However, the percentage of tire dealers who actually do this is miniscule, although this is conventional retail wisdom. And they admit their reluctance to me openly in person.
A few days ago in a live sales and leadership training session I was conducting for a large, multi-store tire dealership chain, we were touching on this issue of leaving the store to make sales calls. The owner stood up and said, “Guys, this is the hardest thing you’ll ever do as a store manager.” I certainly concur.
Now, in my world, hard means valuable! Success at this approach truly is the golden goose you’ve been looking for to tap sales you’re not getting now — to collect a whole lot of new money! Let’s dig in and go get some. The following are some hurdles that real tire and service store managers tell me they experience, and my answers to these issues.
Seven “SalesMind” keys for new sales/money from side sales calls
1. “We’ve never done this before.” So what? We were in the dark, too, until Thomas Edison created the light bulb. If you are a store manager, sit down with your assistant managers and counter sales people and announce you are making a commitment to call on businesses within a few miles of the store to start — and you need their support. Then put that commitment in writing.
At the training session, we brain-stormed also about who to call on to start. We decided that the best initial prospects were small businesses, car dealerships, commercial locations (i.e., contractors) with trucks, local schools, and any government facilities (i.e., police, fire, city hall, etc.), within one to five miles of the store.
2. “I have to be in the store to handle things.” You actually have another problem: You are not training, empowering and coaching your team to do the things you do — thus you’re trapped to do them yourself. Take your major tasks, one at a time — like inventory, reconciliations, ordering supplies, scheduling, etc., — and teach your assistant how to help you do those things to free up some of your time.
3. “What do I take to make calls?” Keep it very simple: Your business cards, a short company brochure or flier, and some sort of simple promotion to create bait to come in to your store — 10% off an oil change or alignment, buy three tires, get one free, etc. Always emphasize your great store service: “We can get you in and out quickly for tires, oil changes and alignments to save you time and frustration.”
4. “I’m too tired by the end of the day to make calls.” So am I. Do it in the morning. To start, do this for two hours first thing in the morning (at the hours businesses open) on the same day of the week, such as each Wednesday. Build a pattern where you plan those hours and alert your store team that that is where you will be, period — in the field.
5. “What do I say?” A better question is, “What do I ask?” Put some questions in writing and go over them with yourself for a few minutes: How are you today? Is the owner or manager in? Are you familiar with our store down on Main and First? How many employees do you have? How many trucks do you have? Where do you currently have them serviced? Who do you buy tires from? Is there a time I could come back (talking to the owner) and make a short presentation about our store? Be a questioner and listener. What you need is information. Always thank those you call on.
6. “I don’t know who to talk to.” See the above — ask for the owner or head manager. They make the decisions and are the ones who can get you access to the fleet or employees’ personal vehicles to sell them tires and service. I had a client store manager tell me again recently that he got some new business from an air conditioning contractor who’s current tire/service shop couldn’t get to one of his trucks for service work. He picked up the phone and called my client/manager. Now, he and his store have the whole fleet of 11 trucks — brand new money. All from one sales call.
7. “This makes me so nervous.” The Ancient Greek philosopher Plato said, “For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories.” Step back and ask yourself: What’s the big deal? So, I visit a few businesses in my area, drop off a few cards, smile, shake a few hands, and tell these folks where our store is — and that “we are the best, please come in!”
Here’s my personal promise to you: If you will leave your store and visit the businesses, schools, and city buildings within a few miles of your store (for just a few hours one day a week to start), you will have access to the new sales dollars you would most likely not get another way. Because if these buyers haven’t come in to your store by now, they are spending money at another dealership. There may be only one reason for this — they just don’t know who and where you are, but they might buy from you if they did!
Go visit them, stop waiting, and get some new money!
Doug Trenary, president of Doug Trenary’s Fast-Track Inc., is an award-winning author, speaker and teacher who has helped companies of multiple sizes, including independent tire dealerships, increase sales and productivity since 1985. His book, “The SalesMind,” focuses on how to establish strong positions with yourself, your buyers — and your time. For more information, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (404) 262-3339.