Dealers Share Tips for Marketing, Selling Brake Service

Feb. 10, 2023

Seventy-four percent of respondents to MTD’s 2022 Tire Dealer Automotive Service Study said they offer brake service at their dealerships for an average ticket of $376.66.

“We have a very high focus on brake work,” says Brett Matschke, president of Richlonn’s Tire & Service, which is based in Muskego, Wis. “From an industry term standpoint, it’s low-hanging fruit.

“Customers don’t realize they need (brake service) until they’ve let their brakes go a long way and if we can capture those opportunities when the time is right, we obviously want to,” he notes.

There’s no seasonality to Richlonn Tire’s brake work, according to Matschke. “We don’t emphasize any particular time of the year when it comes to brake work. There are other services we might market more heavily certain times of the year.”

The dealership still uses print to spread the word. “If we mail a reminder postcard to our customers, we’ll always have a coupon in there that’s especially for brake work.

“Believe it or not, there are customers out there who think we only do tires!

“And in the electronic marketing we do, if we can tag certain words or something that will link back to a search engine, we’ll do that. ‘Brake repair and ‘brake service’ are the two terms we use the most” for search engine optimization. “We have a company that helps set those up.”

Routine vehicle inspections are another way to start the brake service conversation, he says.

Richlonn’s Tire is looking at rolling out a digital vehicle inspection program this year and “regular inspections are still a big thing we’re doing to drive brake sales.

“If the wheels are coming off the car, we make sure those brake pads are measured. And we do measure them - in millimeters! “

We record that in our point-of-sale system, so we have the ability to go back and say, ‘OK, you were in 6,000 miles ago for your tire rotation. Your brakes pads were at this level. They’re now at this level. In six more months, they’re going to be down to this level and we’re going to talk to you about replacing them.’

“If I know a customer, I’ll joke with him and say, ‘Your car will stop eventually - one way or another!’

“The majority of people will say, ‘Let’s get things going. Let’s set up an appointment.’ The inspection is really where that whole process starts for us.

“In the last five to seven years, we’ve made it a priority and have put a lot of emphasis on making sure our people in the shop understand we want to be the first to let our customers know” they need brake work, says Matschke.

The power of inspections

Is brake work always an easy sell? “Yes and no,” says Spencer Carruthers, owner of Kenwood Tire & Auto Service, a single-store dealership in West Bridgewater, Mass. “Yes, because people need their cars and for most it’s (a question of when), not how much? That’s our niche and most brake jobs can be turned around the same day.”

That said, “you can’t assume the parts store has what you need in stock anymore. We’ll source brake parts from multiple parts stores to complete jobs.”

When communicating needed brake work to customers, “seeing is believing - so nothing is lost in the translation,” says Carruthers. “The transparency provided by shareable digital inspections is priceless.

“Most customers have no idea what a rusted rotor looks like - or a worn-out brake pad.

“But when you can share pictures and recommendations, it creates a trust that the price is fair,” he explains.

Kenwood Tire’s techs follow a prescribed process when performing digital inspections.

“Once the tech has completed the inspection, I’ll review the findings on my desktop and make specific recommendations. I’ll text or email the customer their inspection link.

“Once I’m notified they have viewed it, I’ll wait a few minutes, then call and go over the findings.

“Digital inspections with real measurements and photos of the customer’s vehicle are crucial to standardizing the brake inspection and repair process,” he says. “They also protect the shop by documenting any concerns and declined service.

“Most of our brake work is done because there is an immediate need - grinding, vibrations and soft pedals,” says Carruthers. “We don’t do specific brake marketing like coupons or specials anymore.”

About the Author

Mike Manges | Editor

Mike Manges is Modern Tire Dealer’s editor. A 25-year tire industry veteran, he is a three-time International Automotive Media Association award winner and holds a Gold Award from the Association of Automotive Publication Editors. Mike has traveled the world in pursuit of stories that will help independent tire dealers move their businesses forward. Before rejoining MTD in September 2019, he held corporate communications positions at two Fortune 500 companies and served as MTD’s senior editor from 2000 to 2010.