Using Text Messaging to Generate Sales
Tire Man Leans on Technology to Connect with Customers
Tire Man, a two-location dealership in Thousand Oaks, Calif., is leaning on text messaging to better communicate with customers as the world becomes more tech-reliant.
Carey Lutz, general sales manager at the company’s Thousand Oaks location, says the use of texting to communicate with customers has impacted Tire Man’s business in a positive way.
Testing the waters
Lutz says his dealership had a unique and unexpected start with utilizing texting services for sales. It was a customer Tire Man had been serving for several years who suggested using texting.
“One day this customer, who is also a computer nerd, walked into our Thousand Oaks location and asked if he could put a feature on our website to enhance communication,” says Lutz. “We agreed to put him on a month-long contract and to see how it would go. That was about five years ago.”
According to Lutz, the customer placed an interactive feature on Tire Man’s website. An icon pops up on the bottom of Tire Man’s website and customers are prompted to put cellphone numbers in, along with a message. That message goes straight to a Tire Man employee.
The dealership provides all employees with cell phones and covers all associated expenses.
The benefits of texting
Lutz says that many of the people on his sales team have been with Tire Man for years. He believes this helps make digital connections with customers much easier.
“Over the years, we’ve become friends with our customers and in a lot of cases, we will keep their cell phone numbers.”
Some customers, he says, have come to prefer communicating “only by texting.”
Lutz says he probably does about 25% of business via texting and more than 50% of the people texting Lutz’s team have become repeat customers because of the speed in which they reply to inquiries.
“A lot of other tire businesses have features like this, but when I answer people back, they always are shocked by how fast we got back to them. That’s the perk of having the texting notification sent straight to our personal cell phones.”
He also says texting allows Tire Man’s sales team to get more work done during the day.
Normally, he adds, if a customer calls in with questions, the dealership’s salespeople must stop what they are doing to answer right away. Using texting, if a customer contacts Lutz or another team member, they can finish what they are working on and then respond.
“We are all a bunch of old men in here and we prefer a phone call,” laughs Lutz. “But it is nice when we are busy just to text. I can be on the phone with one customer and text another customer telling them their car is ready.”
He also says Tire Man employees will send texts to customers that contain a fair amount of information about various tires and services, so customers can go back and look at that information when needed.
And texting gives Lutz and his team the opportunity to discuss a customer’s problem before they bring their car to the store. “Most of us are running pretty hard and pretty fast, so, it gives us a breadcrumb trail.”
Advice for other dealers
Lutz believes texting is probably less effective for “big corporations like Walmart.”
He also understands that texting may not be for every tire dealership. “It seems like everyone who is in the tire business has been in it for a while and has found what works for them. Well, texting really works for us.”
Looking ahead, Lutz says Tire Man plans to increase its text communications in response to customer demand.