Thursday, 3 January 2013

Snow Tyres: Let it snow ! Let it snow ! Let it Snow !

For the first time I have invested in a pair of new snow wellies for my Beetle.  I'd just seen my red bug fail its MOT due to insufficient tyre tread.  Expecting a 90 min wait I'd killed time looking around all the warm public places in our village and nursed a large pot of tea for an hour in our coffee shop.  I had even purchased a couple of car magazines, surely being disloyal and looking at new cars was going to tempt fate and see an expensive failure result.  Luckily for me, this was not the case. VW's are gooood. 

 
When asked if I wanted to wait another 40 minutes for a new pair of tyres for more than £200, I declined due to extreme frustration around a wasted afternoon and no desire to wait a single minute longer.  I figured I could try out the specialist tyre place that is literally down the end of our road.  Whilst it doesn't look much different (historic images from the 1920s or whenever cameras were in their infancy anyways). 

It resembles the kind of one person garage that each village will have had in days gone by.  You'll know the kind of place I mean, located on the road to be able to offer in person petrol sales delivery and with a building just big enough to hold one or two vehicles inside, jacked up with their engine parts being tinkered with by grease monkeys in blue overalls.

It wasn't about the pricing - I figured tyres are tyres and this seemed entirely reasonable, surely it wasn't worth shopping around.  But pig headed as ever, I was going to use the local specialist because the other time I'd used them I had driven straight in, been the only customer and got an amazing service for a puncture at a tiny cost. 

Just like the case study I'd learnt during my MBA studies: Japanese car industry break through in Europe - offer a fully loaded product at a great price and you will find customers in their millions.  You really can have a mould breaking better product and lower price - the idea that low price equates to low quality and high quality requires a high price is a concept I often look to challenge.

 
Continental Tyres promotional video clip with a powerful emotional appeal

Of course, this time (having given up due to a queue on a previous attempt) I had to queue.  As it happens, this was just enough time to negotiate a price and discover that winter tyres would be much cheaper than I suspected.  We have had a bit of a frost, but worse winter weather is expected.  As I write Frankfurt and Berlin airports are closed due to heavy snow.  On the campus Royal Holloway MBA we have worked closely with Contiential Tyres over five years on a live business consultancy and some of the wisdom shared by Guy Frobisher from their marketing team had landed.  Winter tyres =  a great idea. 

I was intrigued at how such a fast service could be delivered, when I had been quoted 40 minutes for this work at a generalist motor mechanics.  Putting my MBA operations management knowledge into action I sought to analyse the systems being used.  I noted clear role specialisation, yet some very effective team communication.  With six bays and the ability to blitz a four wheel change with four mechanics, the wheels are off your car before you can walk into the customer waiting areas.  Within 20 minutes my tyre change and credit card payment was completed.  If the store room for new tyres were co-located with the main workshop space (a very tight footprint the legacy of a historic business, carefully organised to offer maximum working bays) I am sure a couple of minutes could be taken off the change time. 

Good pricing, fast service, happy customers, no wonder they don't have to worry too much about marketing, Word of Mouth is going to be very powerful.