Can You Look at My Tires? (by Jeff Short)
That’s the question I hear from my friends and neighbors regularly, and I’m in the wholesale business. You must get it all day long. I wonder how you and your staff answer that question.
Do you just quote state law for fear that the customer will think anything else is you just trying to make a buck off them? What if there was a way to provide your customer with helpful information that will build their trust in you AND provide opportunity for replacing tires sooner than 2/32nds (the law in 42 states)?
Many reliable sources say that tires should be replaced before that state requirement. Consumer Reports magazine stated that their tests indicate tires should be replaced at 4/32nds. The difference in wet braking tests was huge. Independent tests conducted by The Tire Rack confirm these findings.
So, how do you use that information? In a day when many of your customers research these types of questions online, you can offer them this information. Two of the most trusted sources recommend earlier replacement. By sharing this info, you show your familiarity with the online sources they are reading. You show your expertise in a way that doesn’t make a hard sell, but gives them trusted information to make their own choice based on safety and expert recommendation. Many will probably still say, “What would you do?” People will not be surprised when you suggest that tires should be replaced before they are “illegal.”
In conversation with our dealers, I found that some are using a 2,4,6 recommendation. They state that tires are legally worn out at 2/32nds, but should be replaced at 4/32nds for proper wet traction. Below 6/32nds the tires are ineffective in the snow…. “will you be driving this vehicle in the snow?”
What is your policy? Is someone inspecting every vehicle that enters your shop for service? You have to be prepared that if you do not recommend replacement when warranted, the next shop might. I think many independent dealers want to do the right thing by their customers, so they tend to want to let them slide by (no pun intended) until fall or the summer vacation trip instead of just coming out and saying it’s time for new ones. I’m sure the chain stores have a checklist and someone is asking for the sale. So here is a way to take it off of you. Just say, “You have a little to go before they are illegal but Consumer Reports and Tire Rack say they should go at 4/32nds of an inch, so let’s do the right thing and get them off.”