We have a Firestone Complete Auto Care Store across the street from our office here at Media Logic. They mainly sell tires and do some other car care maintenance. I hadn’t been in the store in a year or so, but this week I had to stop in to get my wiper blades replaced (I know, I should’ve gone to Pep Boys and saved $20, but I didn’t).
Upon entering the store it was clear that the interior had been completely overhauled since my last visit. They did a really nice job. It was as if Firestone decided to tap the modern marketing ethos – facilitate conversation and establish authenticity – as their design inspiration.
Most notably, the counter has been removed. Instead of constructing a three-foot-tall barrier between customers and employees, the new design includes a handful of high tables or stations where interaction and dialogue is intended to take place. This improvement immediately changes the purchasing dynamic for me. I no longer expect the I place order/you tell me what to buy/I buy because I don’t know any better/I leave dynamic. By simply removing the counter and adding the “conversation stations,” the employees feel more like advisors or guides; like they are there to actually help consumers, not simply take their money.
There is a computer at each station but, instead of shielding me from the screen, the employee turns the screen my way so that we share in its viewing as we scroll through product options. It provides a sense of transparency. I don’t feel as though this guy is going to try and sell me the most expensive set of wiper blades, but the wiper blades that best suit my needs.
So in addition to picking up some new wiper blades, my jaunt to Firestone helped to reinforce – through a surprisingly pleasant retail experience – the principles of conversation-centric marketing:
• Offer the consumer more control
• Engage in a conversation
• Be authentic and transparent