April '19

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12 THE SHOP APRIL 2019 tant, it also never hurts to have a little fun. Most towing customers are excited to hit the road on a great adventure, and appre- ciate the part your shop plays in getting them there safely and without issue. The good news is that the potential for those issues is shrinking, thanks to today's batch of awesome tow vehicles and the many innovative products designed to sup- port them. "Trucks today have incredible towing and payload capacities and almost every year the OEs one-up each other with these capabilities. At the same time, the unloaded ride quality seems to be getting better and better," notes Ryan Feyer, group marketing manager, Air Lift Co. "Just look at the number of people buying 1/2-ton trucks who never, or very rarely, tow or haul—yet most 1/2-ton trucks have payload capacities over 2,000 pounds. Because of this, pickups are both equipped to handle heavy loads yet also offer softer rides for non-towing users." Increased capability means that customers don't necessarily "need a bigger truck" when they want to up their towing game. "Weight ratings have significantly changed over the last 10 years. It used to be difficult to find a 1/2-ton truck with a payload capacity over 2,000 pounds," Feyer says. "Today, the Big Three all have 1/2- tons rated up to 2,300 pounds or greater. Towing capacities have also crept up sig- nificantly in the last decade. In some situ- ations, yes, the best recommendation is a bigger truck—but today it may not always be necessary." Aftermarket towing accessories may increase towing performance, but they don't change the vehicle's basic structure. "Talking about air suspension springs in general, it is a common misconception among professionals that adding a helper air spring suspension increases a vehicle's load-carrying capacity (GVWR). This is not true. It is the vehicle's manufacturer that determines that, based on the axles, brakes, engine and other components," says Bruce Beck, regional manager, Pac- brake Co. "Adding an airbag or air-spring suspension won't allow your truck to carry more weight; installing one will level out your vehicle, regain ground/tire clearance plus reduce bounce, eliminate sway and balance braking." RESPONSE: Pickup owners are rightly proud of their vehicles. Put yourself in their shoes to create the best possible towing experience for each individual. Does your retail environment inspire trust and confidence with towing cus- tomers? It may be beneficial to view your showroom, installation area and entire facility through their eyes, and then make changes as necessary. One example: "In many cases, shops are busy and just trying to keep up on their workload. The result is that opportunities are often missed in recommending products that are available to improve ride and/or control," Beck points out. "Point-of-Purchase (P.O.P.) materials are available and make it easy to start a conversation, identify issues and make recommendations that may lead to a sale now or down the road." Feyer recommends taking it one step further by really getting into the mind of your next towing consumer. "A simple step shops can take to increase hitch and towing-related sales is to try to understand and solve your customer's internal problems; not just their external problems," Feyer says. "For example, when a customer buys towing mirrors, it solves an external problem—it helps them with better visibility of the road behind and beside them. However, what is the internal problem this is solving for the customer? Most people are afraid, nervous or timid when towing (their internal problem), so what you're really selling with towing mir- rors is confidence. If you can understand the internal problems the customer is facing, and not just the external problem, you can bring new recommendations and solutions to the table and win favor with your customers." JEF WHITE is Executive Editor of THE SHOP magazine. Adding air suspension products helps level tow vehicles for a safer, more pleasant experience. (Photo courtesy Pacbrake Co.) Be sure to sug- gest products that improve a tow vehicle's ride and control. (Photo courtesy Pacbrake Co.) Consumers trust you to be the expert, and highly value your opinion when it comes to product recommendations. (Photo courtesy Blue Ox) TACKLING TOWING'S TOP ISSUES

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