Retail

Goodyear And Changing Tires On Demand

Most Americans don’t know all that much about tires. According to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA), 35 percent of American drivers can’t tell if their tires are bald — a problem since cars with worn-out tires are far more likely to crash.  

In case you’re wondering, tire treads should be deeper than 2/32 inches; if the tire has less tread than that, it is time to replace it.  

But, of course, no one likes having to go and replace a tire. There is the expense involved, often considerable. But worse, much worse, is the time. The same USTMA study indicates that apart from lack of knowledge about when to change their tires, lack of desire play a critical role as well. No one wants to make a special trip to get a tired changed, and spend the attendant hour or so waiting for the job to get done, and as a result many Americans don’t change a tire until it has actually blown out.

Goodyear, however, is hoping it can get everyone onto a more tire maintenance-oriented state of mind, by making tires not a miserable chore that one has to go out and have done, but instead a service that literally comes to the car.

The new concept, according to reports, is called Roll by Goodyear, and it’s a very different concept for retail than what has been typical of the 132-year-old tire company’s MO thus far. Roll shops are smaller than their standard Goodyear store counterparts, and more brightly-colored — in canary yellow and blue — than typical shops with their muted grays and whites.

And there are no tire bays — all the work is done off-site, so the Roll shops are designed more as drop-off locations than anything else.  

Because Roll shops, while designed to have a more welcoming and inviting look, aren’t meant to be the tire shops of a bygone era that required customers to sit and wait for their cars to be ready. Roll stores as conceived and designed to live in and around lifestyle shopping centers and destinations. The idea is that a customer leaves the car behind, shops, eats and enjoys — and comes back to a car with its tires changed and ready to go.  

Unless, of course, they never want to go to the store at all. The Roll by Goodyear concept is perhaps most notable for its inclusion of services on demand. Instead of requiring the customer come to them — and drive more on those bald tires — Roll offers multiple “we’ll-come-to-you” options. Users can order up an online valet so that their  car can be picked up and dropped off after the tires are changed. And, according to Goodyear, pickup and drop-off don’t have to be at the same location. A consumer can have his or her car picked up in the morning at home, and then dropped off to them at work, for example.  

Consumers can also opt for the somewhat less fancy (and rather less expensive) option of tapping into Roll’s mobile installation van to come and service them on the spot, where ever they may happen to be. Among services offered are tire changes and balancing.

As of today, there are about 600 Goodyear tire and auto service center outlets in the U.S. Demographically speaking, the average customer in a tire shop is most likely to be male, and probably on the older side. It was this observation, said Fred Thomas, vice president and general manager of retail for Goodyear, that led the firm to believe it had reached a crossroads where innovation is necessary. The population of people who drive cars, the firm realized, is wider than the population it was seeing in its stores.

“In our (traditional tire) stores we skew slightly older and slightly male, and we are missing millennials and women,” Thomas said. “We tested the Roll concept and it scored extremely high with all demographics, and in particular with millennial women.”

As of today Roll by Goodyear is a small concept — there are only four of these concept stores in the greater Washington, D.C. metro area (in Maryland) as the first phase of a pilot program. According to Goodyear, the company’s next phase of the rollout of Roll will involve introducing it to new markets in late 2018 and early 2019.

Goodyear, noting it has seen good traction in the program so far, is optimistic about the change it hopes to see in the marketplace.

“Guests can choose when, where and how to install their tires and they are in complete control of the process from start to finish,” Thomas said. “Goodyear is eliminating the waiting room and giving people­­­ time back in their day to do the things they really want to do because at the end of the day, Roll by Goodyear is about making  buying tires easier.”

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