Fountain Tire shifts gears to drive trust in mechanics

Fighting the trade's perception problems, the auto service chain is giving customers reasons to rely on its technicians' know-how.

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Fountain Tire is putting its technicians front and centre of a new campaign promoting the new Digital Vehicle Report, an effort to show consumers how the auto service brand gives them the transparency and education they are looking for.

In its latest creative, a mechanic becomes an artsy photographer thanks to the new service, which involves him taking images of a vehicle he is servicing. The Digital Vehicle Report delivers a colour-coded digital report to owners, showing more detail about what’s actually wrong with a car, what needs attention and what does not. This not only provides more transparency and trust to customers, but allows them to feel like they are fully in control of decisions by being better informed.

Denise Gohl-Eacrett, director brand and customer experience at Fountain Tire, says auto servicing has been plagued by perceptions of dishonesty and mechanics looking to squeeze extra money out of customers, driven by a few bad actors. The Digital Vehicle Report is another tool for Fountain Tire to show that brand pillars like trust and education are well-earned.

“We want to share what we’re seeing,” she says. “We have no problem with customers seeing and knowing what’s going on.”

Gohl-Eacrett says Fountain Tire was stuck in a bit of a creative corner, as a humourous approach built around brand spokespeople was a bit of a barrier to being seen as a “more human” brand, she says. It has been addressing that in recent years with its “We Are On This Road Together” platform, but the new campaign puts even more of the focus on technicians in the garage over customers on the road, as mechanics can be experts who empower people with knowledge about their vehicles, even if it is expressed in a cheeky way.

“Together” also refers to Fountain Tire’s business model, a 50/50 partnership whereby the majority of its managers own equity in their stores. 

This gave the brand a lot of flexibility to implement changes quickly when the pandemic hit, before auto repair shops were deemed an essential service. The local ownership model made it easier to execute a pick up and drop off program for customers to ensure their safety, another way it reinforced the “togetherness.” In a time where customers may be hesitant to get up-close with technicians, the Digital Vehicle Report is also a virtual way to get a deep look inside a vehicle.

The campaign is appearing nationally until the end of the year in TV, digital, and social. Gohl-Eacrett says Fountain Tire has shied away from radio due to uncertainty with the pandemic – it has transitioned to way more online spend than before, but with TV still serving as a “great” complementary platform. Overall spend for the fall is a bit lighter than it has been in previous years, thanks to that uncertainty, but Fountain Tire still wants to stay top of mind, as the fall and lead-up to the winter months is its busiest season.

Goh-Eacrett says the Fountain Tire brand has always resonated with older demos, so since its brand evolution has been more effective at reaching younger drivers and their families with digital and social.

FCB Canada once again led the creative development and strategy, with Guru Communications on media and Pound and Grain on online elements.