How to upsell quality to value-conscious consumers
Tires are a significant purchase in a consumer’s spending life, so it’s no surprise that price is the primary consideration for many shoppers.
However, it is possible to “upsell” better-quality tires to value-conscious consumers using communication, tire knowledge and expertise. Traction News spoke to 2U Mobile Solutions co-founder and long-time industry expert Scott Blair about how tire dealers can maximize upselling and boost their profits.
Communicate with your customers
Upselling is about challenging customer preconceptions and getting them to see the value in the products you sell, rather than just the cheapest price. The key here is to talk to the customer and ask them questions about their tire purchase. Many customers ask for cheap tires, Blair said, because they presume all tires are the same. It’s up to the dealer to investigate the customer’s needs and explain why a more expensive tire would suit them better.
“It’s all about communication; if all we do is ask for a size and give a price, we’ve done absolutely nothing to help the consumer, whatsoever,” Blair said. “Tire dealers should be asking ‘what are the expectations of the owner of the vehicle? What kind of ride do they want with comfort and handling? What do they intend to use the vehicle for? If it’s a truck then is it just used to drive around town picking up groceries or is it fully loaded with a box of tools and pulling a heavy trailer?’ ”
Cheap tires are often harsh and noisy, and while any tire is considered a ‘big’ purchase, paying a little less on a big-ticket item for a much more uncomfortable ride won’t seem like the savings it appears. Explaining that the difference between a bare minimum tire and a quality tire may only be $120 to $150 for a whole set – so over the life of the tires that’s $150 rather than dealing with the aggravation of underperforming tires – will swing some customers.
“You say ‘there are inexpensive options,’ then you qualify that by saying ‘I don’t think you’re really going to be happy with that and you’ve got to consider you’re going to be riding on these tires for the next couple of years — if the ride is loud or harsh, you’re going to have to listen to this every single day’,” Blair said.
Explain value and use your knowledge
There is a big difference between price and value and this is where a tire dealer’s knowledge is crucial. For example, Blair said, there may be a tire for a particular application for $100. But the dealer knows that based on the application, the customer would probably only get 20,000 to 25,000 miles out of that tire, whereas a $150 tire may go at least 50,000 miles. The customer may be spending 50 percent more but they are getting twice as much life out of the tire.
“The conversation needs to turn from price to what is the best value,” Blair said. “When you convey that by explaining it in very simplistic terms then most consumers understand.”
Knowing when a tire has been discontinued or superseded, a new product has come onto the market or a certain tire in now available in new sizes gives you more options to offer the customer and if you explain them properly, you are more likely to find they are willing to spend a little more. Treadwear data supplied by the manufacturer and resources like Consumer Reports, which provides independent testing of tires, are also useful in communicating value to customers.
Specials and rebates
While performance and treadwear data is good for identifying relative value, there are always other specials and discounts that can give the customer an even better deal in terms of price, quality, longevity and comfort. You want to make sure that you’re fully aware which of your tire brands are offering rebates, because often you will be able to put a customer on to a really good quality tire without any cost to yourself.
“The onus is on us as professional tire dealers to know our product and to be able to essentially guide the customer to the product that we know will be the best for them,” Blair said.