We serve our communities one customer at a time. On any given day at any given store, we have the opportunity to serve others, to serve the needs of others as they have need.
In a retail brick-and-mortar store, the needs are varied, to say the least, especially when we consider all the types of vehicles and all the types of people and the challenges with both.
If we intend to serve properly, then we need to prepare properly. Preparation is not optional. Recent studies indicate and confirm the need for earnest preparation and professional execution. Recent surveys have found that:
* Over 50% of consumers say they seek associates with expertise.
* Nearly 90% say they are more likely to buy when helped by a knowledgeable associate.
* 85% of shoppers like to visit a store because they like to touch and feel products.
* Consumers use online for research and in-store to buy. Eighty-seven percent surveyed said shopping in-store is preferable when price and availability is similar.
* Seventy-five percent of all final buying decisions are made at the store.
If all these studies are even close to accurate (and I believe they are), then the old adage “Success favors the prepared” should inspire us to be prepared at the counter. The definition of preparation is the activity or process of making something ready or of becoming ready for something.
If your store is prepared and you are prepared, then serving those in your community who are in need should happen with a high rate of success.
Let’s review the points outlined above.
- Half of all consumers are looking for expertise, associates who know what they are talking about and deliver on their commitments. Real experts don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. Surveys show consumers are seeking you if you demonstrate expertise. The expert Counter Intelligence Agent who knows and shows knowledge and expertise through proper presentation and demonstration will win the customer and the sale.
- A survey shows that 90% of the people will buy from you if you demonstrate expertise ... 90%. Expertise requires you to prepare in advance. Of course, you can “look things up” or “get the answer,” but those who truly practice Counter Intelligence are prepared with the right answers in a timely manner.
- The buy button is located on the corner of the sales counter. Eighty-five percent of shoppers want to see and feel the product before they buy. This means they are coming to your store to see and feel a product and to engage with someone with some expertise. The next step in the process for the customer is to buy. The buy button is on the counter and you are the operator; press hard and often.
- All things being equal, consumers prefer the retail store. Need I say more? The store, the store, the store!
- Final decisions at the sales counter are a result of the engagement between the consumer and the Counter Intelligence Agent.
The consumer, in the hands of a prepared associate, should leave the store with their expectations at least met, and it’s highly likely their expectations could be exceeded.
This summer I had the opportunity to travel to 10 cities in five weeks on a series of speaking engagements. I met with some of the finest owner/operators, and I’m happy to report what I consider to be a shift taking place in the tire replacement aftermarket. The shift is the independent dealer going back on the offensive. I remember when the clubs started selling tires and the onslaught of negative prognostications that followed for years.
Today, the club story is that of the Internet and online e-tailers. In my opinion, the Internet and growth of smartphones and connectivity has had more impact on independent tire dealers than anything I’ve seen in all my years in the industry. It appears to me, however, that the ever-resilient independent tire dealer has got their mojo back and is now more confidently differentiating the advantages that can only be offered by a local, full-service provider versus buying online.
If you look at the studies, you could conclude that there has never been a better time to prepare to serve your communities with true expertise and enthusiasm. Next month we’ll look at some specific opportunities for the independent network.
If you properly prepare to win, you’ll win! ■
Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at [email protected].
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