Auto Service World
Feature   September 1, 2009   by David Halpert

Ride Control Products

Selling Tips:

It’s a simple fact that ride control products don’t get replaced as often as, say, brake pads or tires. They’re less prone to wear and capable of withstanding years of punishment from the road. Despite this, however, they remain an essential category.

Some of the tips we’ve received for selling and marketing ride control products offer simple strategies to help you make that next sale to your technician customers.

1. Review Your Inventory

Ride control parts are one of the most undersold categories in the aftermarket. Because the replacement rates of these parts are lower, technicians are less likely to check them during regular maintenance. Similarly, many motorists are reluctant to replace their ride control parts as a preventative measure, and only do so when it’s an absolute necessity. Nevertheless, be sure to consult your sales history or vehicle registration data to make sure your inventory appropriately fits your market. It’s also very important to have as wide an inventory as you can, though maybe not as deep. Because many jobbers get deliveries from the warehouse once a day, it’s more important that you have the most popular parts on hand and let the warehouse take care of the depth.

2. Understand the Steering Triangle

The signs of a good suspension, known as the “Safety Triangle,” are steering, stopping, and stability. While it’s unlikely you’ll get to test your customer’s vehicle on the road, relying on a visual inspection isn’t usually good enough to detect worn shocks. The manufacturers’ recommended replacement interval for ride control systems is roughly 80,000 km. However, because shock absorbers are made better at the OE level, the units don’t leak as frequently as they used to, although they do wear out internally.

3. Upgrade Opportunities

Jobber stores vary from location to location in terms of their inventory mix; however, there are some basic regional differences when it comes to selling ride control parts and components that can lead to real opportunities in certain key areas. For example, there are upgrade opportunities for any vehicle that is used for towing, hauling, or ploughing, regardless of how many kilometres are on the vehicle. Light trucks are especially good candidates to upgrade to monotube shocks.

4. Shocks and Struts for Trucks are a Great Opportunity

“Hauling” can mean anything from a construction worker loading the back of his truck with equipment and supplies to a family loading up to go to the cottage every weekend. Keep in mind that load-assist shocks and struts, or “air shocks,” can be a viable sales addition for pickup trucks that carry more weight, such as vehicles that hitch to a boat or trailer. Most customers don’t know that light trucks have the highest replacement rates for shock absorbers.

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