Winning with the Big Three—Batteries, Brakes, and Tires

With battery, brake and tire service representing billions in customer pay dollars annually, the following should come as an industry wakeup call: on average, only one car owner in 12 first learned that they needed a new battery, brakes, or tires from a dealer or mechanic. This indicates that an overly passive sales approach is leading to lost revenue opportunities, according to a recent study by DMEautomotive. That’s about $1.5 million in service revenue lost every single year.

Even scarier, only 63.9 percent of dealer customers consider a dealership for brake service, 45.9 percent for battery service, and for tire service, a dismal 35.7 percent!

So, how do you determine when and where your customers will make these purchase decisions?

About 70 percent of customers realize they need a new battery after their vehicle is already dying or dead and only nine percent of those customers indicate that their retailer recommended a replacement beforehand. Dealers need to switch the customer mentality from reactive to proactive by continually monitoring battery health and replacing it in advance. This will keep the customer from making a quick fix and running to the closest place to repair it. You’ve got to keep them in your dealership.

DMEautomotive research also reveals that dealers are now competing with an e-commerce market. More than half of your customers are replacing batteries outside your service center and a quarter of these customers are purchasing their battery online, with price being the key factor.

In order to suit the needs of those customers who are more likely to purchase online, accommodate their online purchase by publicizing and offering an affordable and easy in-store installation.

Tire purchase and installation is, however, researched the most, with 60 percent of customers researching where to have tires replaced and 47 percent of those customers researching a month before purchase. Due to the fact that customers take longer to determine when and where to replace their tires, a periodic tire campaign would be the ideal method to target those customers who have already identified that they need new tires and have begun the research to determine where to have them replaced.

Younger customers are found to purchase tires online more often than those aged 35 and over. In order to engage this group, add pricing and features on your dealer website as well as adding the ability for customers to purchase online from your store. Offer in-store pick up and installation to accommodate the needs of those e-commerce customers.

In contrast to the battery and tire process, 27 percent of customers indicate that they first realized they were in need of new brakes because their brakes were squeaking, but the second reason was receiving a recommendation from their mechanic or retailer.

Help expand brake service consideration by performing multi-point inspections, since the customer is less likely to identify brake problems on their own. The inspection can pinpoint customers who are currently or soon to be in need of brake service and help alert customers to the condition of their brakes. Utilize follow-up communications, because the brake service may not be perceived as immediately urgent to customers, it is crucial to get them back in your store.

It’s time to start winning with the “big three”— battery, brakes, and tires. Attacking these services head on will put your dealer back on top, gaining the millions of dollars lost in years past. Stop the passive sales approach and start identifying these needy customers!

Mike Martinez is chief marketing officer of DMEautomotive, the industry leader in science-based, results-driven automotive marketing that provides a range of marketing services to the biggest and most innovative automotive organizations in the industry. For more information, email

Mike Martinez


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