Automotive and Tire Industry Outlook for Fall / Winter 2021
The ability of each of us, as consumers, to get the products or services we want or need has been disrupted in many markets for a variety of reasons. The tire and automotive sector has not been spared and there is cause for concern for the coming season. Please find below our outlook for the upcoming fall / winter season that you may wish to consider for the needs of your clients.
Currently and in the coming months, there are five trends that will negatively impact the ability of consumers to source tire and automotive products and services to meet their needs.
1) Talent Shortage in Retail – Long before the start of 2020, there was a labor shortage in the tire and automotive markets. Today, it has multiplied as in many other industries. Retailers are extremely difficult to find experienced technicians to inspect, maintain or install the same products that are becoming hard to find.
With a talent shortage in the original equipment and aftermarket segments, the industry will experience reduced capacity for the number of customers you can serve during the rush. In a traditional year, waiting too long can leave consumers waiting two to three weeks before they can get an appointment for tire or auto needs. Given the industry’s reduced capacity, we would expect these wait times to be longer than traditional wait times.
2) Product shortages – Manufacturers in most industries face the same talent shortage as retailers. Operating factories with reduced manpower also results in decreased capacity, resulting in long order fulfillment times.
3) Shipping delays – We can safely say that over 35% of tires and automotive products are manufactured outside of the North American market to meet consumer demand in North America. The supply of containers to ship products as well as the availability of space on ocean freight liners are limited, creating long shipping delays. Not only are we seeing long delays, but the costs of fear continue to rise.
Large organizations have had to invest in the purchase of containers and / or freighters in an attempt to control their own plight with product shipments. Many others will have to wait until late in the season to see their inventories arrive.
Whether or not organizations own containers and / or ocean liners, offshore port closures create additional delays in getting products to North American markets.
4) Geography – Where you operate will play a role in your ability to find what you need for your client this winter. Operating in Canada, we will all experience winter conditions, but as we know, some will see climate change sooner and longer. As winter conditions arrive, supply chains will move inventory to markets that present the first opportunity to sell their inventory, putting even more pressure on markets that later experience winter climate change.
5) Price changes – With all of the above impacting the availability and capacity of products for businesses along the supply chain, we can expect higher price increases. The tire and automotive industry has arguably experienced the largest price fluctuation with the largest price increases in a single year. As manufacturers have limited production capacity, they will continue to have to charge more for the products they sell. At the same time, as talent continues to be hard to find, the cost of labor from manufacturers to retailers will also continue to rise.
rise resulting in both higher prices for products and services.
We call the closing months of each calendar year “the fall rush” for a reason. Most consumers wait until the day or days before the first snowfall before taking action. As mentioned earlier, this leads to overcapacity issues in a normal year and it will not be a normal year end for your customers who choose to wait.
Please find our recommendations below for preparing your clients to ensure they get what they need while there is product and time available.
1) Make an appointment in advance – If not, already start using phones, emails and text messages to communicate the challenges we all face and ask them to book what will be precious time. After booking, provide confirmations up to date / time to ensure they are not left behind without any presentation.
2) Tire storage – If not complete, already inspect each set for replacement needs due to wear or tread depth. Contact, communicate concerns, and secure inventory early to ensure consumers get what they need while reducing time for your team during the rush.
If you contact a customer to make an appointment in advance and they stock their own tires, have them inspect them or offer to have them inspected, so you can help now.
3) Provide financing options – There is a lot of financial pressure on many consumers who may choose to postpone their vehicle requirements as late as possible. By addressing
clients make sure to mention consumer-centric financing options (asset-based, credit card rates, open loans).
Four times – As you know, many of your customers have been waiting for a long time until the last minute. Make sure to let customers know that time may not be an option at the last minute. Create assurance that inspections as well as installations are best handled early on, won’t impact warranties, and won’t negatively impact their vehicle for a short period of time. It is safer to be ready for winter before it happens than to wait long after it has been on us.
5) Fleet – For customers who operate multiple vehicles, organize fleet inspections to determine needs. Not just now, but on an ongoing basis to make sure you can get what they need not just for today but for tomorrow.
6) Examine labor rates – Your labor expenses may have increased only slightly over the past 18 months, but they will continue to increase at a potentially high rate. We will also continue to
see increases in other operating expenses. Continue to prepare your business for the increased costs you will incur by reviewing your labor rates now and on a quarterly basis.
Until we see supply chains normalize, the game will continue to change. Continuing to operate this fall as many have done in recent years will be disappointing. Those who actively plan, proactively schedule, and secure both products with time for their customers’ future needs will benefit from the rest of 2021.
Todd Richardson is the CEO of In Motion Brands (IMB). IMB is a retail support agency focused on support independent tire and auto companies across North America. To contact Richardson, write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org