Ride Control Service: ‘You Have to Believe in It'

Oct. 1, 2021

Selling ride control components can be a big revenue generator. It keeps tires performing at their best and provides the best ride possible for vehicle owners.

And at the end of the day, it’s just good business. 

But for too many customers, thoughts of ride control often don’t enter the picture unless there is an obvious problem.

What’s the best way to move ride control service to the forefront?

According to suppliers, it starts with conversations, customer relationships and both technicians and service writers who believe in selling ride control services. 

“As with any service need that is not obvious to the consumer, it is vital to help vehicle owners feel confident that you have their best interests and safety in mind,” says Denis Recker, brand manager for Tenneco Inc.’s Monroe line. 

“If there is a need to replace their ride control components, you need to make them aware of this fact, explain the benefits of replacing worn units and ask for authorization to complete the repair. 

“You would be amazed at how often we hear from consumers that their service providers have never informed them of the need to replace worn shocks and struts. This is a missed opportunity.”

Aaron Shaffer, director of marketing for KYB Americas Corp., points to the role technicians and tire dealers themselves play when it comes to making the sale. 

“It’s not that hard if you believe in” the service “and are disciplined,” he says. “Unfortunately, that is where challenges occur. And when I say ‘believe in it,' that is where the biggest difference is.

“There are shops out there that are selling 100 shocks a month and then there are the shops out there selling four a month. And the only difference is that the guys selling 100 shocks a month believe in it.”

Shaffer says that when he visits dealerships and auto repair facilities, he hears from technicians that people don’t buy shocks or struts and cite their price tag as a reason. 

“They have all of these excuses,” he reveals. “And the first thing I say to them is, ‘Tell me about the last time you put shocks on your truck.’ They look at me like I’m from Mars. ‘No, I haven’t done it,’ they say. I then ask, ‘How many miles are on your truck?’”

Some have provided totals that exceed six figures.

“I’ll say, ‘The problem is pretty evident here. You don’t believe in it.’”

Shaffer often recommends that tire dealers secure a new set of shocks and struts from their distributor and install them on their own vehicles.

“And rather than just put them on, drive it — and drive it aggressively. Give it a real road test. When you can feel the difference on your own truck or car, it’s like a light switch goes on.”

Two people, in particular, need to “believe” in the value of shock and strut service, he says — the service writer and the technician.

“The tech needs to believe in it. And then the service writer again needs to sell (the service to) the motorist. If both people are not on the same page, it will probably never be suggested.

“Not suggesting it is a little bit like making decisions for the customer and that’s not right.”

Brad Wiechelman, West Coast sales account manager for Ride Control LLC’s Gabriel brand, believes tire dealers are missing an opportunity as they are in the best position to sell these parts.

“Tire dealerships are the best customer centers where (customers) actually can get someone to look at their front end and do an inspection,” he says.

“It’s good for the service bay and good for the customer. The more you look, the better job you are doing for the customer.”

A very simple tool — the humble tape measure — comes in handy, too, he adds.

Measure each corner of the car for ride height. Then refer to a chart that tells you the correct ride height for that vehicle and you are off to a great start, Wiechelman explains. 

About the Author

Ron Ledgard

Managing Editor

Ron Ledgard is the managing editor for Modern Tire Dealer and Auto Service Professional. He previously worked for The Athletic, the Akron Beacon Journal and DK Pittsburgh Sports. He started at MTD and ASP in January of 2021. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. #H2P He enjoys the outdoors, sports, cooking (or, at least, eating food) and running (but that is a work in progress).

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