Taking control of ride control sales

Feb. 14, 2013

How often do people buy shocks and struts when they are buying replacement tires? “Never,” says Danny Rosinsky, a partner at Ocean Tire & Service in Hermosa Beach, Calif. “They’re too mad about having to buy the tires.”

Usually it takes a car coming in “bouncing like a low rider” to get people to think about buying ride control products, Rosinsky states.

And it takes a lot of education to sell the service. “People are used to tires, belts, oil changes. They’re not used to buying shocks and struts.”

That’s why education and visual aids, available from shock and strut suppliers, is so important for this segment, Rosinsky notes. That can mean displays and literature in your store to information on your website.

Industry experts say the key is to promote preventive maintenance for this service, which means recommending an examination of shocks and struts once a year and replacement at every 50,000 miles.

A Google first

Google ride control products on the Internet and the first independent tire dealer that pops up is S&S Firestone Inc., which has five S&S Tire & Auto Service Centers retail locations in Lexington, Ky., and three in surrounding areas.

On its website, www.sstire.com, the company has a special section to help educate customers looking at replacing their shocks and struts. A write-up breaks the service down into its basics: definition, importance and maintenance.

 Definition: “Shocks and struts help to hold the tire to the road and make your ride smoother. Not all cars have both shocks and struts. Some have only struts, while others have only shocks. A strut is a complete suspension assembly, and shocks are part of the overall suspension.

“Shocks and struts perform two basic functions — aiding in ride control and dampening spring oscillation, which keeps the car from bucking every time it meets a bump in the road.”

Importance: “Why is it necessary to replace shocks and struts? Driving with worn out shocks and struts can be as dangerous as more obvious problems such as bald tires or faulty brakes.

“In addition to preserving the car’s performance, replacing shocks and/or struts will prevent the wear of your tires and suspension parts, including the ball joints, steering linkage, springs and CV joints.”

Maintenance: “Symptoms of poorly performing shocks and struts include excessive bounce when stopping the car;  unusual noises from shocks and struts (clunking or squeaking when your car is moving); steering wheel vibration and  unusual tire wear.”

S&S says it will first inspect shocks and struts for wear, then “remove worn shocks and/or struts and install new, high quality replacements, if needed.”

Knowing when it’s needed

Tenneco Inc., which offers the Monroe brand of shocks and struts, says there are visual signs when it’s time for replacement, including fluid leaks from the shock or strut body; dented or damaged shock or strut bodies; and broken, damaged, corroded or worn mounts or bushings.

According to KYB Americas Corp., new shocks can have quite an impact on the handling of a vehicle. The company notes they can:

1. improve stopping distances.

2. prevent nose dive when braking.

3. reduce body roll when cornering.

4. increase ride comfort.

5. prevent acceleration squat.

6. prevent traction loss during maneuvers.

7. prevent bottoming out when driving over bumps.

8. improve steering corrections.

9. prevent tire wear known as “cupping” and related tire noise.

Preventive maintenance can head-off rough rides and save customers money in the long run. Information in your shop and on your website can help pave the way to more shock and strut sales.   ■

Shocks and struts: Independent tire dealers report healthy profits

Total annual shocks/struts service sales: $1.271 billion

Average annual sales per tire dealer: $47,623

Average annual profit (45%) per tire dealer: $21,430

Average ticket price per job per tire dealer: $360.78

Average number of jobs per month per tire dealer: 11

Percent of dealers offering shock/strut service: 92%

The average ticket price for shock/strut service is the highest, followed by air conditioning at $353.55 and chassis/suspension at $309.33.

Source: MTD’s 2012 Tire Dealer Automotive Service Survey.