If your dealership is fortunate, or unfortunate enough if you don’t like winter, to operate in an area where you get hit with cold temperatures, snow, and ice rain every 12 months, then you probably have a strategy to sell winter tires every fall.
Winter tire sales can be a windfall for your dealership’s parts and service departments, but they can also be a logistical nightmare if every one of your customers wants to get their tires swapped on the days following the first snowfall.
But who can blame them?
Let’s face it; we’ve all been guilty of procrastination when it comes to winter tires. Maybe we think that by denying the inevitable we will be able to keep summer alive for a few more weeks. Or maybe we feel that this might be the year when global warming rids us of winter altogether. But no matter how deep we shove our heads in the sand (or should I say the snow), the first snowfall always seems to catch us by surprise.
This common behaviour makes it impossible for your service and parts department to monetise 100% of the winter tire opportunity because you’re limited by the amount of bays in your service department, and the amount of hours you can squeeze out of your workforce in one day.
Bottom line: you’re leaving each year a ton of money on the table.
How To Precipitate Your Winter Tire Season Before The First Snow
The key to maximising your winter tire sales and profits is to find a way to precipitate your winter tire season and get your customers and potential winter tire buyers “in” before the first snow.
But you already knew that; you just didn’t figure how to do it yet.
You’ve probably been trying, over the years, the full spectrum of tactics to make it work but to no avail. Lowering prices, giveaways, and free tire storage only chip at your profits; and spending money advertising your winter tires while it’s still nice outside makes your dealership sound like the crazy person on its soapbox downtown prophesying the soon to come end of the world.
But when every communication strategy seems to fail, I like to turn my focus on the prospect’s inner radio station: WIIFM aka What’s in it for me!
Like one of my marketing mentors likes to say: “A mouse will dig through a wall for cheese, what’s your prospect’s cheese?” Well, in the case of the coveted winter tire prospect we would like to precipitate, the cheese is the rubber they need for winter! Wouldn’t you agree?
This idea led me to an experiment where I created a video offering a dealership’s current customers the opportunity to win their winter tires weeks before the usual first snow. My idea was based on the hypothesis that if a prospect didn’t need winter tires, they wouldn’t care about winning tires.
The message of the video was simple: “Let us quote you our best price, and you could win your winter tires!”
Instead of a random giveaway that might appeal or not to different prospects, the lure of winning winter tires allowed us to pre-qualify individuals who were most likely to need winter tires and jump-start a conversation about the subject with the dealership’s parts department without being sales-pitchy.
The total value of the prize? Only $500!
Great To Sell Tires And Even Better To Get Other Customers To Pre-Book Their Tire Swap
With our Good Samaritan offer well-articulated in the video, we also offered curious viewers who might not need new winter tires for a few reasons why they should book now their appointment to get their tire swapped. The reversed psychology worked like a charm.
Instead of being some self-centred dealership trying to avoid a bottleneck in our service department so we can make more money; we were the good guys, the ones giving winter tires, also trying to help our other customers avoid the chaos inherent to the first snowfall.
Two birds, one stone.
Here are some metrics from one of the dealers who tested our idea:
"Our November tire sales target was $102,807.00. This was set to match the tire sales we experienced in November 2016. November 2016 was the most tire sales we had ever experienced in one month so beating that number in 2017 was going to take a full team effort.
I am happy to announce that as of the end of business yesterday, we have crushed that number by more than 30%! We are currently sitting at tire sales of $136,044, and we still have three more selling days this month! I know that there are some efficiency changes we need to make on our side to ensure a smoother, quicker response time to each of the quotes but all in all, I am quite satisfied with the results we are experiencing."
Rich Snider, Parts Manager at Cambridge Centre Honda
Unexpected Bonus: An Increase in Fall Maintenance Work
Now here’s the kicker to our winter tire experiment: we ended up generating a
bunch of additional business for the service department, beyond the obvious tire swapping; and we did so by simply planting a seed using a video on the thank you page after people had completed the request for quote.
The short lead nurturing video confirmed that the dealership had received the prospect’s request and that they were officially registered for the draw. Then the spokesperson went on with some fall maintenance recommendations keeping a very educational and informative style, staying away from any sales pitch.
Instead of having your service advisors do all the heavy lifting trying to upgrade customers for fall maintenance work, we had customers requesting the work or asking questions about it.
Talk about effectively using communications to create a different dynamic!
Making Your Winter Tire Message Go Viral
Equipped with your videos and your lead capture form, all you need now is to get the message in front of your audience. Email marketing should be your obvious first choice, SMS marketing should be a close second. You’ll get an immediate lift from both, so intense in fact, your parts team better expect and be ready for it. We’ve seen response rates up to 20% on the first email broadcast. If you have a smaller list, I would also include a ringless voicemail strategy.
Make sure you add at the end of your email or SMS message a PS asking customers to share the opportunity with the people they love. They will, at a rate of 17%, so a list of 1,500 customers will allow you to reach a few hundred people more.
YouTube in-stream video ads and Facebook image ads also work wonders.