Where do you start building a tire department? Well, you start with a commitment – a commitment from management and staff, Anthony Paulozza, director of marketing and national account sales, Pirelli Canada told Canadian AutoWorld.
“It’s not a short-term effort,” he said. Commitment means understanding your market, training staff to become tire experts and buying the right tools like wheel balancers and tire changers.
“Consumers must feel confident discussing tires with the service advisor and service manager. That means knowing more than just the tire size and recommending the old spec tires.”
He went on to say a helping hand isn’t far away: Most OEMs have good tire programs; they can help dealers launch or expand their tire business. Their reps visit dealers regularly. Of course, the tire makers are involved. Between the two, training is readily available.
Pirelli, for example, has a training program that teaches everything from the basics of mounting and balancing a tire to how to work with runflat tires, he said.
“When we train, we go beyond a basic review of Pirelli products. We educate the dealership staff to have knowledge of tires in general, he said. “It’s important that they suggest the proper tire for the vehicle and for the type of driving the customer is doing. Sometimes, it may not be Pirellis and that’s fine with us. What’s important is that the customer has the right tires for them. It doesn’t do any justice to anyone if the customer has a set of Pirellis that are not suited for their vehicle.”
Dealers needn’t worry about having to set aside a large space for inventory; it isn’t necessary.
“Our local distributors supply the tires, so dealers don’t need to stock a vast inventory of tires,” he said.
He explains that most dealers have a wide range of product choices inside or outside their OEM’s tire program.
Grant Paton, Pirelli’s regional sales manager for the Toronto area said dealers and staff should know what tires are available so they can do more than just recommend the same old tire.
He adds that successful dealers take the time to promote their tire business.
“They know that there’s huge spin-off in business once a tire is taken off the vehicle.”
By promotion, he means tactics like making tires visible in the showroom and, most important of all, offering storage. He warns that storing tires demands expertise.
He argues that having a good tire department is also a must for used- car sales.
“When it comes to replacement tires, gone are the days when dealers would say: ‘What have you got lying around?’”
Most quality used cars come with a good set of replacement tires, Paton says. Cars ride better on the right tires and that makes for a good test drive. And it improves the chances of a sale.