100 years old and open to change

April 15, 2015

Since 1911, Daniels Tire Service has been serving the greater Los Angeles and surrounding areas with dependable, quality products and service. Daniels Tire Service is a premier provider of commercial tires and operates a collection of retail tire and automotive repair locations.

One of their locations happens to be a few blocks from my home, and I’ve used them successfully for a variety of automotive services for the last six years.

The retail sales counter is prime real estate. It’s imperative that the sales counter, itself, help facilitate activities on both sides of the counter. It’s torture for me to watch sales staff and customers interact around this small counter space ... it’s awkward, dysfunctional, boring, ridiculous, and lacks intelligent design.

The sales counter is only 18 inches deep and seven feet long. The surface space is consumed by monitors, keyboards and phones. There is very little room for the sales staff to work and almost no room for the customers. Though there are two stools for the customers to sit on, there is no overhang so customers sit sidesaddle at the counter. Though providing the stools for customers is thoughtful, the execution is less than ideal.

The solution

Design a simple extension that adds 14 inches to the depth and one foot to the overall length; this almost doubles the surface space. We decided to use a welded steel frame for stability and strength, with a matching black Formica surface, and used reclaimed wood to add some character. The big, flat, black computer monitors are now hidden with a message board that broadcasts simple interchangeable messages. We modified the Daniels Tire Service logo to freshen it up, and then laser cut the new design into the reclaimed wood on the counter and into the message boards. A little design goes a long way.

The whole team at Daniels Tire got behind the project: Owner John Daniels, General Manager Brent Cole and Store Manager Sean Sookwongse. This team understands customer service and customer experience; they do more than talk about it; they practice it daily.

The scope of the project was simple, and the results speak for themselves. Look at the before and after photos.

Components of change

Willingness to change; desire to improve; a focus on customer experience; two steel stools; two message boards; one custom-made counter extension; one digital screen message board; a two-tier tire stand to highlight tire specials; reroute a few cables; and add a few plants and air freshener.

Consider these facts:

  • 75% of all buying decisions are made in the store.
  • 90% of consumer purchases are made at brick and mortar locations.
  • 60% of tire purchasers research on-line before buying.
  • 75% of consumers depend on a dealer website.
  • 92% of consumers buy their tires in the store.

The best time to give it your best is at the time of purchase!

Like we said in earlier articles, the sales counter is prime real estate; it’s a pivotal place; it’s the best place in your store to influence customers; it’s the best place to tell your story, your best message; it’s the place to maximize your message.

This simple extension to the sales counter is designed to influence the buyer. Studies consistently show that the customer experience is vitally important to repeat business and customer loyalty. If we have the good fortune to have customers visit our store, we should make our best effort at the counter. Not only are we saying the right things, the counter is the place to optimize your message.

The collective message at the new Daniels Tire sales counter is this, “For over 100 years, we’ve been taking care of customers, we’re good at it, you can trust us, and we care.”

You must deliver what customers want. It’s one thing to say you care about customers, you must prove it. You must prove it at the counter every day in every way; make it comfortable, make it pleasant, and make it professional.

This is the place to put your best message into action. Optimize your message; optimize your value to the customer.

We did all this for less than $2,500, plus some time and effort. Everything is better at this counter. It’s certainly more counter intelligent. If it doesn’t work at the counter, it doesn’t work!   ■

Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at [email protected].

See the unfolding counter upgrade articles here:

'Counter culture'

A different perspective on the sales counter

It all starts and ends at the sales counter