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Basic Tools Still Matter in the Modern Retail World

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Sometimes, it’s the simplest tools that make the biggest difference in a tire dealer’s business. Take for instance, voicemail.

Five years ago I was talking to a tire dealer about his social media efforts — he was ahead of the game on this front compared to plenty of other dealers. The longer we talked, the more our conversation wandered all over the place, and eventually he mentioned that he had just recently upgraded his tire store’s telephone service to include voicemail.

I won’t mention the tire dealer by name here, but I was really surprised that this progressive dealer, who was moments ago talking to me about social media marketing, Google Ad words, online tire pricing and booking service appointments online, had only recently discovered voicemail as a business tool.

Truth is, he just hadn’t thought about it.

A friend told him he thought the 50-plus-year-old tire store should get an answering machine. So he did. And it didn’t take long for it to pay off.

That customer left a message and later came in and spent $600.

I imagine there have been plenty more profit-making messages left on the store’s voicemail in the last five years.

I won’t claim that I remember every conversation I’ve had with a tire dealer from the last five years, but for some reason this one has stuck with me. This tire dealer, with a single store in a city of less than 30,000 people, figured his customers knew when his store was open and when it was closed. And, if they called after hours and didn’t reach someone, they’d call again in the morning. As I recall, he hadn’t ever thought about the customers who might call when all the other phone lines are busy.

I don’t need to tell you that competition is fierce, or that you, the independent tire dealer, still control the vast majority of retail tire sales in the U.S. (63% of sales, to be exact). But that’s all the more reason you don’t want to leave low-hanging fruit for someone else to grab.

So this week, take a walk through your store to look for what you might be missing.  I’m not talking about the big things, like the heavy duty tire changer or other piece of shop equipment you’ve been contemplating.

Better yet, ask a friend who’s not familiar with the ins and outs of your business to walk into your store and take a look around for you. What do they see? What do they smell? What do they hear? (This would be a great exercise for you to do with one of your friends from the local chamber of commerce who works in an entirely different field.) They just might offer a suggestion that’s hiding in plain sight.

I’d love to hear what you find. Drop your comment below, or send me an email.

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