Several weeks ago the low-pressure gauge came on in my wife’s mini-van (do people even have vans anymore? Can I just call our mini-van a van? Are we trying to save some face here by thinking we’re not as bad as the “van” people?). I did what most guys would do (guys that don’t have any clue how to fix anything on cars), and I walked around the car and “looked” at the tires. I might have even kicked one just for good measure. They all seemed about right so I thought it might be a bad sensor.
About a week later the light was still on and the tires now looked a little more flat (not sure what I was gauging their “look” by, but trust me, they were slightly flatter than before). So we took the van over to Discount Tire. They have a “free 3-minute air check.” I know this because I’ve used it a few times.
All you have to do is pull up the the bay and an employee stops whatever they’re doing and comes over to check your tires. Sure enough, in less than 3 minutes, we were back on our way with some free air. No pressure, no sales pitch, virtually no talking. They just filled it up, stood behind our car as we backed out (one of their company policies to make sure no accidents happen on their property… keeping insurance rates low), and sent us on our way.
Another week went by and the driver’s side front tire was looking pretty low. My wife went over again and they filled up her tire… again. This time they said it really needs to be checked.
So, I dropped everyone off at school the next day and drove over right at 7:55am (they open at 8:00am) to see if I could snag an appointment for later in the day. At 7:55am, there were already two or three customers inside. All the lights were on, they had opened the bay doors and the business was already hustling and bustling (at least 5 minutes before their official opening time). You see, they had customers that had gotten there before they were supposed to be open and they didn’t want them out in the cold. The doors were open, the coffee was made and the showroom was clean.
When I walked in, I was already the third in line. They said they would take the van in immediately, check it out and see if they could repair it…. for FREE. That’s right. Discount Tire will repair your tires for free… if they can. They have posters hung up inside the showroom that explain where they can and can’t repair a tire. I was immediately impressed by their continued generosity to provide services for free.
Before they took my van in (yes, I’m just calling it a van from now on), the technician explained that two of my tires were OK, and two were getting into the danger zone on tread. He showed it to me on another poster that talked about the dangers of not being able to stop quickly (more free education).
So, when he came back in a few minutes later holding a piece of steel that was lodged in my tire (and then brought in the tire itself), I was prepared for the fact that it might not be able to be repaired. Then I had a decision to make… I’m clearly buying tires at this point. Do I buy them from Discount Tire? They offered to put the spare on (for free) and let me drive around until I decided. But he also said he had tires in stock, never pushed me to the most expensive, and said he could have it done in 20 minutes. SOLD.
I felt good about the purchase. I was never sold to. I was helped. They provided a service that I desperately needed, at a price that seemed reasonable (I didn’t compare cost, and I wasn’t going to!). Then they did the job quickly while offering me free coffee with a smile.
Tire places hold a special place in my heart. One of my first jobs was changing tires. I worked in a dirty, hot, disorganized tire place. We never helped people buy, we just tried to sell them the most expensive option. Deals felt sleazy and “off the books.” At Discount Tire, you’ve got a bunch of guys who are just there to help. They don’t have to clean up your wheels and grind off the rust and re-balance your other tires and, and, and, and…. in fact no one expects that of them. What they’re doing doesn’t cost the company a whole lot extra. But in the few years that they’ve been in town, I’ve bought 6 tires from them, and I can’t imagine going anywhere else.
While I waited, I put a picture on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter proclaiming how happy I was with the service. Several of my friends chimed in and said how much they like their company as well. Discount Tire will NEVER see the social media ROI that I’ve given them (unless my posts are public, which they are, and you should be watching for your brand, but that’s another article), but make no mistake about it, they have a social media campaign that I was just a part of…. and when I see a friend asking where they should get new tires for their car… You better believe I’ll shout it from the rooftops.
Having great content (in this case the education about my options, the tires, and the generosity of doing services for free) was a gateway for me to buy from them, and it was SO good that I’m telling everyone I know.
How do you stack up in your industry? How do you compare to the preconceived perceptions of your service? Normally, when you say “Tire Place”, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what that’s going to look like.
Go out and change the public’s perceptions! Change how people think about your service! Do something different! Be Clever!