Rubber Shortage?

Don’t panic, but do keep an eye on it.

The auto industry may be staring down another parts shortage, this time in rubber supply. These headlines speak for themselves:

“Rubber scarcity creates new headache for beleaguered automakers.” 

“Up next, a possible tire shortage.” 

“What to know about the looming tire ‘apocalypse.

Is the world about to have a rubber shortage? Should your dealership start panic-buying like the toilet paper hoarders of March 2020?

My take is that you don’t need to panic – at least, not yet. But it would be wise to keep an eye on the situation by making use of the tools at your disposal.

As of today, our live inventory tracking feature shows that tire distributors across North America still have plenty of product in stock, in part due to lower sales through 2020 while people were driving less. And if you just thought to yourself, “Wow, QQuote has a live inventory feature?”, the answer to your question is yes, it sure does! A simple click on any tire graphic on the search results page will instantly bring up a list of distributors with that product in stock, including real-time inventory counts and direct contact information for ordering. This data can be accessed by anyone at your dealership, not just the parts desk, which means your salespeople can tell right away whether a product is in stock without having to pick up the phone or leave a customer waiting.

It Pays To Be Prepared

Regardless of how the impending rubber shortage may unfold, it always pays to be prepared, and there are a couple of things your dealership can do to stay ahead of this situation as it unfolds:

  1. Put a high priority on advance winter tire sales. We’re already expecting this winter tire season to be one of the craziest ever. Many people skipped buying winter tires in 2020, whether to replace damaged sets or to go with their new car purchases, because at that point they weren’t driving all that often. But demand is expected to spike as kids go back to school and more people return to their workplaces, and staying ahead of any potential shortages is just one of a long list of reasons to get these customers in the door early. Consider offering some great deals on wheel and tire sets – but not on loose tires – for any customers who want to purchase and install before the end of October. This will help free up your service bays for the busiest weeks of the year while also ensuring your early-bird customers don’t lose out if inventory dries up.
  2. Start tracking the products you order most often. Things haven’t reached the “buy everything now” stage, but it’s a good idea to start painting a picture of how things stand with the products you rely on most. Have a staff member begin monitoring and tracking availability on the products you order
    frequently, and set the thresholds where alarm bells should start ringing. This will allow you to be prepared for any supply changes without having to sit on a lot of expensive inventory, ensuring you’ll be ready to serve your customers.

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