Coolant calmly collected (and replaced): Black's Tire flushes systems for cautious motorists

Dec. 1, 2007

Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C., are pretty far away from the Snow Belt. People there rarely see a lot of that cold, white stuff. But when they do, look out, says Rick Benton II, vice president of sales and marketing for Whiteville, N.C.-based Black's Tire & Auto Service (BTS), which has retail stores in those markets. "They get a quarter of an inch and there's mass confusion!"

Snow -- and even cold snaps -- sends people into BTS locations this time of the year for cooling system flushes and other services.

"We do a lot of coolant flushes," says Benton. "That's probably our most popular winterization service."


A typical flush takes 30 to 40 minutes. BTS uses machines to flush cooling systems. "Some people drain and refill the radiator but you really need to flush the whole system to clean it out."

Price points for cooling flushes vary due to vehicle and type of coolant, says Benton. "We don't do a ton of advertising for it. We promote the experience of our techs. We emphasize the fact that they have been doing this for years and know what they're doing."

Benton says coolingf system flushes serve another purpose: they give techs an opportunity to check hoses and belts for wear and cracking. They also check hose clamps. "You have a little more time to look around when you're doing a flush." If a BTS tech finds a problem like a cracked belt, he shows the customer. "We don't replace a part without showing the customer. We want to show them exactly what's going on. If you show a customer where a belt or hose is cracked, he says, 'He's not trying to just sell me something I don't need.'

"That's why we've been so successful. If you're upfront, you may not make as much money then, but we want that customer, his family and his friends year after year. Our customers usually say, 'Fix it.' Our problem is that we probably don't push our services enough. We could probably do more. But some of our stores are in rural areas and people just don't have the money you'd have in a major city."

That's OK by Benton, though. BTS, he says, isn't going anywhere. And when it's time for more work to be done and budgets are looser, customers won't think twice about coming back to the dealership.