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Improving the Lives of Others

Want to know how to be a leader in your community? Give back to it!

“When you stop giving and offering something to the rest of the world, it’s time to turn out the lights.”  George Burns

In my position as “Relationship Specialist” at Vital Media, I love the conversations I have with our customers. Especially when I find out what     they are doing in their corner of the world to improve the lives of others. This information usually comes about because when discussing what to put in   their phone or digital messages, they mention a community event that they   are a part of and want to support and promote through messaging.

I’m telling you, at times my heart swells and I have tears forming right behind my eyes as I hear what you do to come to the aid of others. Charitable giving is close to my heart. Several years ago while our children were young, my husband lost his job and we were without insurance. While doing home repairs he had an accident that put him the hospital and put us thousands of dollars in debt, at a time when we were without income. I had double the stress, worrying about my recuperating husband and concerns about how to pay our bills. Due to the generosity of many, many people our hospital bills were covered, our mortgage was paid, food was on our table and our   children barely knew the difference. I will be forever grateful for how they reached out and helped.

Today we want to spotlight Gary Michaels and team at Tires, Tires, Tires, of Sioux City, Iowa, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“The test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members.” Pearl S. Buck.

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Spirit of Volunteerism Award


I met Gary at a trade show in Orlando, and it just warmed my heart as he told me about some of his company’s charitable contributions. Tires, Tires, Tires  is owned by brothers Dan and Dale Nothdurft, and their entire crew gets involved.

The Wheels to Work program is a project to provide vehicles for single parents in the Sioux Empire who can’t afford them.


They have contributed heavily to the Angel Cars/Wheels for Work program, providing labor and parts for donated cars with clear titles. Gary told me that his heart goes out especially to the women and their children who have left   an abusive relationship with literally nothing but what they can carry. To be able to provide these families with transportation is generally received with tears of gratitude.

When a tornado packing winds of between 135 and 165 mph ripped through the small town of Mapleton, Iowa, destroying or damaging 60% of its structures on an April night in 2011, Dan Nothdurft and Mr. Michaels made arrangements to prepare, deliver and serve more than 600 pounds of   smoked pork to victims of the twister and volunteers who were on site to help during the cleanup.

Tires, Tires, Tires has also organized many other ways to help the families of soldiers through fund drives and care packages coordinated by Siouxland Soldiers.

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KSUX’s Ronnie Lee here to Support Siouxland Soldiers.


The company has donated tires and services, such as oil changes and alignments, to help raise funds for the American Heart Association, National Kidney Foundation, Sioux Falls YWCA, churches, service groups like the South Sioux Kiwanis Club and Make-A-Wish South Dakota.

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Tires Tires Tires was part of the YWCA’s Tribute to Women


I asked the question, “How do you start?”

“Set a budget. Figure it out at the beginning of the year,” Michaels said. “Decide on a community activity. Look for community partners who have a mission that you believe in. It doesn’t matter how big or small the activity is…just commit to it.”

Michaels also said the key to honest community giving is that you don’t think about what you get in return.

“Don’t think about whether you’re going to get paid back,” he said. “Do it because you believe in it. When you do that, you’ll get paid back in blessings that you’ll never even begin to realize in your lifetime.”

Dan Nothdurft agreed. “We weren’t supporting our communities because we wanted the (Humanitarian) award. Each day we just want the chance to let others know how tire dealers can go into their community and make a true difference, think outside the box and become passionate about it.”

“While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world where charity will have become unnecessary.” Chinua Achebe

Additional sources:
http://www.tires3.com  (This is the dealer’s website where you can learn more.)
http://www.tires3.com/Family-Car-Care-Center/Community/
http://www.tirebusiness.com/article/20121105/ISSUE/311059988&template=printart
http://www.tirebusiness.com/article/20121102/NEWS/121109963/tire-dealer

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A Simple Step to Generate Trust

Want to know a simple way to get your customer’s to trust you?

Speak simply.

It may seem obvious, but according to psychologists, recommending a service in terms that a customer is already familiar with will result in that suggestion seeming safer, and the person making the suggestion more trustworthy.

The more experienced we are with something, the more likely we are to like it.

But, if the familiar is safe, then something new can appear uncertain and risky. So when a customer hears a bunch of automotive jargon and a price tag – no matter how honest your intentions are, they are less likely to trust what you’re saying.

What can we learn from this familiarity bias?

  1. New customers need things presented in terms they’re familiar with in order to build that initial trust. If their first experience in your shop is filled with the unfamiliar, you’ll likely lose their business the next time their car needs a repair.

  1. The more you can hack your customer’s brain using their familiarity bias, the greater chance you have of increasing your loyal and repeating customer base.

  1. Think about how this affects your marketing. Are you presenting potential customers with complicated models or images with over-technical copy? Or are you presenting your shop and services in ridiculously easy to understand terms with simple icons?


Trust plays a critical role in the automotive aftermarket. Make sure you’re doing everything possible to increase yours.

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Get to Know Vital Media

For the last week we have been posting videos of our team talking about Vital Media, our history, core values and customer stories. Today we posted them here to recap, have a place where you can comment and ask members of our team questions. We hope this gives you a better idea of who we are and how much we love our customers!

 

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Use It or Lose It

It’s that time of year again when dealers have to make informative decisions on how to utilize their hard earned Michelin business development funds, formerly knows as co-op. You’ve worked hard ALL year, the last thing you want to do is let those funds go to waste! Vital Media has a variety of programs that are ALL 100% eligible for reimbursement, dollar for dollar. Some of the programs we offer are Message On Hold service, dBoard and our latest innovation Menu Plus. I wanted to take this opportunity to give some insight on how valuable these programs can be for tire and automotive shops, and how they can have a positive impact on your business and your bottom line.  

Many managers and owners, wear many hats day in and day out. Allow us to take some of the headache out of finding and implementing marketing programs that can help you sell MORE tires and services. Our programs are focused on enhancing YOUR brand, giving you an opportunity to upsell your customers with everything you have to offer and help you stand out from your competition down the street. Customers are creatures of habit. They will typically go to one shop for an oil change, another for tires and somewhere else for mechanical work. These programs are designed to help you cast a wider net, and let customers know that your business is a 1-stop shop for ALL of your customers automotive needs.

Message On Hold

Customers are calling you for a reason…they want to find out more about who you are and what you do. One of the worst things a business can do to retain callers is having dead silence when customers call in and get placed on hold. In todays world, when most people call with their cell phones, if a caller is placed on a silent hold for more than 30 seconds they will begin to wonder if the call has dropped and potentially move on to the next auto shop on the list. Our Message On Hold service is a great way to increase your caller retention, advertise who you are by promoting the products and services you offer and DRIVE REVENUE! Dealers spend thousands of dollars to get customers in the door, but most will call first. This is where our on hold service can really assist the other forms of advertising already in place by not allowing callers to hang up on dead silence.  

 Digital Signage (dBoard & Menu Plus)

Ok, you’ve done a great job with other areas of advertising to get the customer in the door, now what? Most shops have a flurry of posters, cardboard cut outs and signs on the wall promoting services or specials. Allow us to take this concept to the next level. Our digital signage products are point of purchase advertising solutions designed to help you promote the products, services and specials you have going on with next level animation. If a customer has a choice of what may grab their attention more, a poster on the wall or an HD screen with captivating content letting them know why it’s important to have YOU (their trusted service advisor) maintain their factory scheduled maintenance for their vehicle vs. taking it back to the dealership. I think the answer is easy. Our digital signage programs are designed to be a computerized salesperson, always on during business hours helping you be the expert with your customer’s vehicle. Click the image below to get more information. 

 

Vital Media has been working with tire and auto shops for over 14 years. We’re in the business of helping companies compete with the big box stores and enhancing the TRUST between you and your customer. Nearly 1/3 of our own customers report having an increase of tire sales between $11K – $17K annually from promos (7 scheduled in 2015) and a 10% annual increase of service sales, just by having Vital Media products.  

We’re experts in the industry and we have a standing no contract policy. Allow us to be a stepping stone in helping you take your shop to the next level with our 100% MAST eligible programs. March 31st will be here before you know it! 

Please visit us online at www.vitalmedia.com for more information OR better yet, give us a call! 866-863-3426

 

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Do Your Customers Trust You?

While we build telephone message on-hold and in-store digital signage and digital menu board programs specifically for the automotive industry, the problem we’re really trying to solve in the space is trust. We want to facilitate and build trust between the dealers (our customers) and the drivers (your customers). It’s a consideration in every decision we make. Trust and of course, our impact on the financial fitness of our customers.

Our research shows that drivers have less and less interest in how their car works. What they care about is having a dealer they can trust. So we focus our attention on tools and a very thoughtful content strategy that puts our dealers in a position to win and keep the hearts and minds of their drivers. A strategy that makes the dealer the trusted expert. Not a gadget. We’re passionate about developing customer loyalty for our dealers. Customers that return year after year. Not just a higher ticket price.

We’re constantly on the look out for new and innovative ways to do this.  But we’re mindful of the “classics”, too. Take a look at this article Show Don’t Tell and leave a quick comment below. Do you take drivers out to the vehicle while it’s on the lift? Why or why not?

 

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What’s Your Biggest Driving Pet Peeve?

More and more businesses are beginning to see that social media is a very attractive way to become more visible and relevant to your customers. Take advantage of this forum to let people know the interesting events coming up in your shop, show them the latest tricked out vehicle you just worked on, or to say “Happy Birthday!” to your regulars.

One way to “drive traffic” to your page is to post questions that pique interest, then invite a response! Here’s one that I recently asked where the replies were swift and numerous. I posted my own driving pet peeve as a starter and that’s all that was needed to trigger numerous comments. See the sample below.

What’s Your Biggest Driving Pet Peeve?
(MY pet peeve is when people follow too closely. My reaction is to put on my blinkers to get them to back off. I found out later this must be a genetic response because my sister told me she does the same thing!)

Other comments among many were:

“People who put on their blinkers to get me to stop following too close!” (Ok…should I stop doing that?)

“Hanging out in the left passing lane on the interstate, aka Left Lane Losers.”

“Waiting until the last possible minute to merge onto the highway; darting across the solid white line, causing everyone to slam on their brakes.”

“Slow mergers, drivers causing a backup by not letting people merge. Particularly at on ramps.” 

“If I let you in, give me a wave!” Followed by: “When I get flipped off.” (Hate it when that happens!)

“People (and motorcycles) who dart and weave in traffic or otherwise drive recklessly.”

“Waiting for a pedestrian to cross as sloooowly as possible. Put some hustle into it!”

“Eyes not on the road…they are putting on makeup, texting, looking at phone, etc.”

“It is common courtesy that if someone is going faster than you to get over and let them pass!”

“People who are scared to turn right on red when allowed.”

“My biggest pet peeve is when people drive when I drive.”

One of my friends even included something to read. “There’s a great book called, “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do” by Tom Vanderbilt that explains a lot that I recommend.

Asking these kinds of questions will allow you to engage with your customers and to get to know them at a different and important level. They may even find it fun! It’s a great way to help them remember who you are and to check back to see what’s new. I will be very interested to hear back from you as to what kinds of questions you post and what results you get from doing so.

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Amateur vs. Professional

I’ve been pondering this and have decided there just might actually be three levels of auto repair available to the average person: Amateur, Less Than Professional (LTP,) and Professional.

I would put my neighbor Lloyd in the LTP category. He’s always working on cars for people, and his backyard is generally full of them. He works on engines deep into the night with loud music playing and bright lights glaring. As an employee at the auto parts store around the corner, he can take advantage of his employee discount—now there’s a perk! I think of him has LTP because I doubt the cars kept there overnight are covered by his insurance, I don’t know if he’s willing to take a hit if it wasn’t fixed right the first time, and surely you don’t leave with a nice list of all the work that was done.

Being curious, I put this out on Facebook and benefitted from the answers I got back. Some have been edited for clarity:

“An amateur is a friend who fixes your car for free. A pro is someone who fixes your car for a small fortune.”

“A pro is someone who has a college associates degree in his practice or who has been to the available specialty schools and courses available to mechanics. An amateur is someone like me, who learns from experience and making mistakes, which is only acceptable if I own the car being fixed! This is usually based on being poor and buying lots of old cars in order to keep them running if possible.”

“Formal training, experience, oversight and tools. I can’t speak to cars but I have been a professional computer technician before. When I work on a computer problem now I still have a lot of knowledge and experience but I have to make do with my own tools and whatever help I can find if I need it. When I worked in a tech shop every tool imaginable (hardware and software) was right there so things could always be done the right way. There were also other techs around to help out or share knowledge and experience”

“My son is a mechanic. I would say make sure they have some ASE certifications. I always ask about that when I take my car somewhere. The more they have the better they will be. I think there is a total of 8, and they are hard to pass”

“With a professional your car is fixed right the first time.”  Note: Said more than once.

So…what are your thoughts?  What separates the amateur from the professional and is there a stage in between?

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Out with the Old?

From 1960-1969 my father worked as a manager at a McDonalds in Lincoln, Nebraska.  From the best he can remember, hamburgers cost 15 cents, cheeseburgers 20 cents and fries 12 cents. You could actually get two meals with drinks for a dollar! Although quite young at the time, I remember my dad working there for two main reasons. 

1. Later when we moved to (very) rural Colorado, my dad was willing to drive for miles and miles just to get a McDonalds hamburger
2. I received a lesson in honesty in business dealings that served me all of my life.

One afternoon while with him, we drove to a different neighborhood to a stranger’s house. “What are we doing here?” I asked.  “I’m taking a nickel to this woman who was overcharged for her order.” He replied. “We drove this way just to return five cents?” I was confused. “A nickel’s a nickel” my dad said with a smile and then left the car and rang the doorbell.

Here we are in the New Year. 2015. It’s finally here. With it will come new innovations, accessories, devices and advances. We are definitely a society that seeks what’s newest, best and at times, most outrageous. I look forward to that! As good as the new can be however, there are foundational “old fashioned values” needed to build trust. Here are some suggested when the question was posted on social media:

“Kindness, manners, service, helping people because it’s what you do, not to get recognition or thanks or a reward. Remembering that your time is your most valuable service.”

“Being friendly and cheerful even when you don’t feel like it. Giving someone a smile and a friendly hello can change their whole day and more importantly your own.”

“Modesty and language! Show respect for others through the way you dress and speak.”

“Honesty, honesty, honesty.”  (This was mentioned several times in several ways.)  “An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. This goes both ways from employee to what employers pay. A strong work ethic is still plenty fashionable.”

“Basic respect and common courtesy. Saying please and thank you. Opening doors for people. Eye contact.”

You can add your own list, I’m sure. You haven’t maintained your long -standing business in any community without some level of trust, and trust comes largely from solid common values.

So, “in with the new!” But let’s not entirely be out with the old.

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I’m Dreaming of a White Tire

With December will likely be snowfall. And sooner or later, everyone will be hoping for a white Christmas. So what does the color white have to do with an automotive Newsletter?

Automobile tires used to be white!
Yes, really.

Originally rubber tires were white, which is the natural color of rubber. In the early 1900s, Binney & Smith began selling their carbon black chemicals to Goodrich Tire Company, as it was found that the use of carbon black in rubber manufacturing significantly increased certain desirable qualities for rubber meant to be turned into tires. Interestingly, Binney & Smith would later switch to making school products and eventually, re-name their company after their most popular product, Crayola Crayons. (Source)

So now you know! And this holiday season when the ground turns white, remember the history of the tire.

Vital Media wishes you a Merry White Christmas! 

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The Waiting Room

For one year on Sunday afternoons I volunteered at our children’s hospital emergency room. After a few weeks of making beds, or carrying “this” to this nurse and “that” to that nurse, I began to see that they were more than adequately staffed with excellent professionals and that they were just giving me busy work. So I began looking for where the real need was that I could fill. I didn’t have to look far. It was just on the other side of the doors in the waiting room.

Maybe you’ve had this experience. You’ve checked into the emergency room and you wait and you wait. You wonder how your loved one is going to be and how much this is going to cost. You are the one that has to make the effort to go up to the desk and ask questions. I know I’ve been there many times. So I placed myself in the waiting room and reached out to people. I let them know who I was and how I could help them. Consequently the waiting room experience for many became better as I could guide them to the cafeteria, restrooms, explain their surroundings, go get additional toys and ask how much longer it would be for them.

Waiting at times is inevitable. Sometimes we have to wait for our ‘sick’ vehicle to be repaired. What is it that you offer in your shop to make the wait better? Here are some solutions that could help your customers feel more comfortable while waiting, along with pictures from our client Myers Tire Service in Wilkesboro, NC. They are a great example of a world class waiting room. 

• Well lit room
• Clean, not cluttered
• Wifi
• Obvious access to restrooms and drinks
• Certificates, business licenses and the name of the Owner or Manager
• Expected costs
• Estimated time frame
• Progress updates
• Additional work with associated costs
• Transportation options
• Music or TV playing at comfortable levels

 

Whether your shop is very small and you offer the basics, or so huge to where you have a totally tricked out reception area, never underestimate the personal touch. This is appreciated more than you may ever realize and could even be the reason someone returns to your shop.

Make the wait as painless as possible. 

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