by Marcus Miller (MPN Reader Feedback, November 2007)
I have been reading the letters regarding the discount tires. I just wanted to say that I disagree with a dealership refusing to mount walk-in tires, or telling the customer that they must charge “double the normal price” for mounting. No customer ever wants to hear that! If I heard that, I would never go back into that dealership, as I would feel they are gouging me. Better that they only sell their tires at a price that includes installation. Then you can have any mounting fee that you want for walk-in tires, and you won’t have to feel that you are being taken advantage of by the scary price-comparing shopper. I feel that most dealers are missing the point. You want the customer to walk in: He did. If he wants you to mount the tire, just do it. Give him some coffee. Let him watch a bike video on TV in the waiting area. Make him feel at home, and start working on goodwill. Make your store a destination, not just a 7-11 to be visited for the least amount of time. A hard-ass attitude might give you a moment of self righteous pleasure while you punish the guy for doing his homework, but in the end, the dealer and the customer lose. People can’t order parts on Friday off the Web for their weekend ride. They can’t try on riding gear. You will lose if you try to fight the Internet dealer at his own game (they do have a place in the world and won’t go away). The brick and mortar dealer will always win in the end if he just relaxes and gives the customer what he wants. Yeah, the customer might save $20 on a tire from the Web, but if you put it on for him, he will remember that and tell all his friends. He will buy from you. A loyalty will develop; maybe even trust and friendship. Most people who shop around know that there must be some balance, and most will give you more than enough business over the years. I have seen it over and over. Can you imagine what the guy who was told he had to pay double for a tire swap will tell people? He is now mad at the dealer, and he still doesn’t have his new tire on the bike. Will he tell 10 or 15 people? What will that cost you in a close-knit biker community? You are sending him right back to the Web for supplies, and he will find someone else to do the job. Or someone will fill the gap of providing services that the dealer won’t provide, maybe a guy in a storage unit with no overhead and a porta-potty. If you have a customer in the store, do what you have to do to make him leave the store happy, and you will be around for many profitable years. If you are out to make a quick buck, and will be gone tomorrow, then it doesn’t really matter, and hopefully someone who really cares will replace you.