Point-of-Sale Systems Offer More Features Than Ever

March 13, 2024

Selling tires at the retail level can entail a million moving parts and having the right point-of-sale system in place can help make those moving parts run smoothly.

Officials from ASA Automotive Systems Inc., JMK Computerized Tire Dealer Information System Inc., Kerridge Commercial Systems, MaddenCo Inc. and TCS Technologies tell MTD that tire dealers expect point-of-sale systems to provide them with more help and data than ever before.

MTD: What features are tire dealers looking for in point-of-sale systems?

Jared Bailey, director of TireMaster operations, ASA Automotive Systems Inc.: Keeping pace with changing customer behavior, customer journey and competitors are currently the biggest concerns for tire dealers.

A point-of-sale system therefore needs to do more than point-of sale — merely printing quotes and invoices. Whether it’s a retail (tire dealer), wholesaler, commercial dealer or a retreader, dealers are asking for a comprehensive point-of-sale system that helps optimize their business performance, provide refined and efficient process management and boost revenue.

Some of the main customer-retention and income-generating features that we have been hearing from the dealers are: 

Point-of-sale and website integration. Dealers are seeking a point-of-sale system that offers valuable insights into customer and vehicle information, creates selling opportunities and presents consumer-oriented products to attract and increase foot traffic to their stores. They want to guarantee seamless integration with their website, enabling them to efficiently manage orders and inventory, enhance customer service through convenient online scheduling and tire ordering, gain a deeper understanding of customer tire shopping habits and eliminate the need for manual data updates. 

Digital vehicle inspections (DVI). Many dealers are interested in DVI, which provide detailed reports with technician notes, action comments, images and recommendations — delivered directly to their customers' phones via text or email. Interestingly tire dealers are increasingly seeking DVI that exceed standalone utilities. Integration directly with the point-of-sale (system) is now a crucial requirement, ensuring a smooth flow of information from inspection reports to service recommendations. This integrated approach optimizes efficiency, simplifying the entire process for dealers prioritizing a cohesive and interconnected system in their operations. 

Inventory ordering and management. Tire dealers are prioritizing inventory, ordering and management features in their point-of-sale systems for operational control, ensuring accurate stock levels, minimizing errors and enhancing overall efficiency. It allows dealers to respond promptly to customer needs and market trends, navigating their business with precision and agility. 

Reporting and analytics. Tire dealers are recognizing the importance of incorporating reporting and analytics into their point-of-sale systems to gain valuable insights into their business. This increasing demand is driven by the realization of the strategic value that data holds, enabling dealers to understand customer behavior, spot market trends and make well-informed decisions. In a rapidly evolving industry, powerful reporting and analytics have become indispensable tools, providing a competitive advantage by empowering data-driven strategies that enhance operational efficiency and boost customer satisfaction.

Customer appointment scheduler. Tire dealers are using customer appointment schedulers in their point-of-sale systems to improve customer service. This streamlines scheduling processes, reducing wait times and enhancing the overall customer experience. Dealers are aiming to optimize their service operations and provide timely and personalized attention to customer needs.

Declined service tracking. Tire retailers are actively seeking a way to track and manage declined services through their point-of-sale systems to enhance customer engagement and improve operational efficiency. This allows retailers to efficiently record and monitor declined services, enabling them to follow up with targeted actions and enhance customer communication. By effectively understanding and addressing declined services, tire retailers are aiming to maximize revenue opportunities and cultivate stronger, trust-based relationships with their valued customers. 

Texting. Tire dealers are looking for texting capabilities in their point-of-sale system for quick updates on service status, appointment reminders and promotional offers to enhance customer engagement and satisfaction. 

Manufacturer and retread integration. Tire dealers are seeking ways to integrate manufacturers and retreading services into their point-of-sale systems. This integration not only streamlines operations and improves accuracy, but also enables seamless ordering processes and real-time inventory updates and ensures precise product information. Dealers can optimize their supply chain, minimize errors and provide customers with accurate product details and availability.

Jim Krakower, director of system development of Tire//SMART, JMK Computerized Tire Dealer Information System Inc.: We are seeing creative software support tools custom-geared to (tire dealers’) business style — coupled with vendor's training/support/setup — to seamlessly integrate them into the dealer's business (approach).

In today's information-driven marketplace, enlightened dealers interested in business profit/growth know that the secret to success is in providing their employees with software information tools for their business style so they can provide the best customer service and operational efficiency, generate satisfied customers with five-star referrals and (achieve) excellent return on investment.

Heather Preu, CEO, Kerridge Commercial Systems North America: Tire dealers are looking at systems that help streamline their business. Allowing quick quoting of jobs and products to customers, integrated connections to suppliers for sourcing products, clear communication to their customers and integration with marketing companies to engage with their customer base are all things a dealer needs in today's challenging business environment. 

David Stumpf, senior account representative, MaddenCo Inc.: Owners of (tire dealerships) are looking for the ability for their staff to provide expert service and flexibility, while still having control over margins and the business data needs. Many understand having one completely integrated system is a major advantage for them when it comes to managing the accuracy of their accounting data. They are looking for a program that can grow with them and will keep them at the forefront in the industry. They have learned a solid and stable platform cannot be understated and many have learned this is crucial in their software of choice.

Jefferson Carpenter, director and general manager, TCS Technologies: It really depends on the dealer. There are some commonalities in what dealers are generally looking for in a new business management system: 

Usability. This means not just checking boxes on features, but how easy is it to maximize opportunity with customers at the counter and subsequently take care of their vehicles. If you need to comb through dozens of invoices to identify the last time an alignment was performed on a vehicle, you’re probably not looking at software that is going to make you more efficient and profitable. In addition to that, we all know the top issue facing tire and automotive repair businesses is finding and retaining good people. A shorter learning curve is important so employees can be more productive. 

Integrations. Dealers are looking at all touchpoints and transactions in their business, (including) sourcing inventory from tires and parts vendors, national accounts integrations and accounting solutions. The better solutions are going to allow you to manage more of your business without jumping to different websites and manually entering information. 

Scalability. While not all tire dealers are looking to add more locations, they are all looking to grow their business. We encounter a lot of dealers that have a long list of things they want to do better, and finding a solution that you can grow into is important. Beyond that, it’s important to find a company that can support your growth after go-live. 

Support. Dealers are looking for a solution that has a strong support organization behind the product they are using from open to close, every day of the week. Talk to current users that are well-known, successful businesses.

MTD: How does your point-of-sale system support tire dealers in adapting to changing consumer demands and market trends?

 

Bailey (ASA Automotive): The tire industry is going through a rapid transformation and this is having a significant impact on the relationship between tire dealers and consumers. Nowadays, customers have a lot of power when it comes to their tire purchasing and car service decisions. They can easily research their options using search engines, which has changed their expectations. They now want seamless online experiences that go beyond traditional, in-store interactions. They want to be able to request quotes, schedule appointments and complete purchases online. Tire dealers understand the importance of adapting to this new reality. Failing to do so not only puts them at risk of losing sales, but also undermines their competitiveness in an industry where meeting customer expectations is critical.  

Our point-of-sale and digital tools have been meticulously designed to enhance the customer experience and attract more customers to dealer operations through modern techniques. By seamlessly integrating company websites with the point-of-sale system, we enable website inquiries, simplify service scheduling and contribute to the development of a strong online reputation.  

We understand that the industry is moving away from traditional tech worksheets, which is why we have introduced digital vehicle inspections. This allows for detailed notes, images and recommendations to be easily sent to customers via text or email. For tire dealers, our commitment extends beyond offering stand-alone DVI. Our DVI tool seamlessly integrates with the point-of-sale (system), ensuring a smooth flow of information from inspection reports to service recommendations. This integrated approach is crucial for boosting efficiency, giving dealers a unified and interconnected system that maximizes their operations for unmatched effectiveness.  

Additionally, we have introduced text-to-pay, a secure and convenient method for dealers to collect payments, keeping up with the changing preferences away from cash transactions. Texting emerges as a powerful tool in our suite, enabling dealers to efficiently update customers on repair progress and vehicle status (and) ensuring a smooth flow of traffic in and out of their shops. 

We offer e-commerce solutions that empower dealers to establish a compelling online presence, ensuring they remain profitable in an increasingly digital landscape. ASA's online store capabilities provide an engaging platform for customers to access high-resolution product images, check inventory, place orders and schedule services. This holistic approach not only enhances customer experience, but also improves operational efficiency, reduces expenses and positions tire dealers for success in a dynamic market.

 

Krakower (JMK): Tire//SMART helps dealers adapt with extensive application of bar/QR codes on mobile devices and articificial intelligence fully integrated into our system processes; (and) holistic, seamless integration of shop data, sales activity, back-office accounting controls and customer relationship management with choice of on-site or web access and more.

It also provides custom program edits with options for minor or extensive custom program edits specifically geared to the unique requirements of each dealer operation. We can also optimize our programs to the dealer’s operational style instead of asking the dealer to change their preferred operation to a pre-defined, inefficient process. 

Tire//SMART features full integration into our custom, industry-specific, back-office business system, with tracking for multiple locations, multiple corporations, multi-state tax authorities etc.

 

Preu (Kerridge): Consumers are looking for a quick transaction; hectic schedules require quick interactions. VAST Online runs on a web browser, allowing mobile service, integration with tire and part distributors for real-time availability and pricing on non-stocked products using OpenWebs and digital vehicle inspection, providing an honest assessment of the vehicle's condition with pictures and videos using Carside. Connectivity with customers is an emerging trend and will only become more valuable in the future to gain consumer trust.

 

Stumpf (MaddenCo): MaddenCo has added enhancements to the program for our dealers. MaddenCo will continue to grow today and into future to support tire industry needs. We provide multiple opportunities for input from our user base and company team for ideas that add value for our user base.

 

Carpenter (TCS):  The (COVID-19) pandemic was the most aggressive advancement in consumer expectation in modern history. Overnight, dealers had to figure out how to advance 10-plus years to not only satisfy consumer expectations, but in many cases, the requirements of certain municipalities. While software development doesn’t happen overnight, we were fortunate enough to have committed to changes in our product offering to accommodate changes in consumer behavior well before the pandemic. We developed a mobile layer of our applications to enhance consumer interactions and provide a touchless service.

About the Author

Madison Gehring | Associate Editor

Madison Gehring is Modern Tire Dealer's associate editor. A graduate of Ohio State University, Gehring holds a bachelors degree in journalism. During her time at Ohio State, she wrote for the university's student-run newspaper, The Lantern, and interned at CityScene Media Group in Columbus, Ohio.

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