In short, I'd tell your friend: "If you believe a ring can be understood geometrically as functions on a its spectrum, then modules help you by providing more functions with which to measure and characterize these spectra.its spectrum."
Elements of a module over a ring $R$ are like generalized functions on its spectrum. $Spec(R)$. We can talk about the support of a module element, or its vanishing set. More concretely, think of how global sections of a line bundle can act as functions you can use to define map into projective space.
When you glue together a module on open sets of a spectrum or a scheme, you get to glue using maps which are module isomorphisms, which are more flexible than the ring isomorphisms required to glue together a scheme. Borrowing intuition from smooth manifold land, the twist in the Moebius band (as a line bundle on the circle) is formed by gluing a copy of the reals to itself via multiplication by $-1$, a module map, not a ring map. This allows us to think of functions like $\cos(\theta/2)$ as being globally defined: as a map to the Moebius band.
In the same vein, when you have a representation $V$ of a group $G$, each element $v\in V$ gives you a nice evaluation map from $G$ into $V$, so lurking everywhere we've got these morphisms from our object of interest into a known object, which are nicely related to each other via the group laws. A fortiori, this certainly doesn't capture the full utility of group representations, but a priori I think it's a decent justification.