In January, hundreds of tire dealers within the Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire network gathered in Overland Park, Kan., for the 2017 K&M Tire Trade Show and Dealer Conference.
Themed “Ignite Your Passion,” the educational portion of the event featured a full line-up of speakers and seminars covering a wide array of high-value topics, including TPMS, agricultural tire pressure, legal concerns with shop training, as well as marketing and customer experience insights.
The sessions were facilitated by Greg Ring, K&M Tire director of training and development. Tire Review Editor Patti Renner opened the event with the presentation of the Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire Top Shop Award, recognizing excellence in independent dealers within the K&M dealer network. She was assisted by award sponsors Jim Robinson of Hankook Tire America and Gene List of O’Reilly’s Auto Parts. Finalists recognized were: Pete Shrake of Budget Tire in Lincoln Park, Mich.; Steve Kirtlan of Kirtlan Automotive in Wabash, Ind., and Dirk Visser Jr., of Trail Tire in Dundee, Ohio. .
Winning the 2017 Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire Top Shop Award was Northtown Auto Service and Tire Center in McHenry, Ill. Owners Kristin and Mark Hartmann accepted the award trophy and $1,000 prize. Winning the Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire Top Shop Award automatically qualifies Northtown as a semi-finalist in the national Tire Review Top Shop Awards program. (More details are available at www.tirereview.com/topshop.)
“We could not be a Top Shop without our team of dedicated employees,” said Mark in his brief remarks as he accepted the award.
Following the award presentation, Renner detailed the characteristics and qualities of top shops with specific recommendations for business transformation.
Chris Neidert, operations manager and ag tire manager for Trelleborg, provided training on tractor tire pressure and its importance to farmers, including how to do the math to determine the appropriate pressure per application for ag tire customers. One important point had to do with the tire pressure of new farming vehicles when shipped (with a higher PSI to ensure stability in transit) compared to the tire-pressure needs once that same piece of equipment takes to the field. He also explained how tire dealers can increase their value by providing technical tire pressure details that will help reduce soil compaction and decrease slippage, which results in lower fuel usage, faster plow times and lower overall operating costs. He was joined by Kevin Lowe of Trelleborg for a gift-card giveaway after the presentation.
Jon Petz, a magician and motivational speaker sponsored by Bridgestone Americas, gave the Friday opening keynote, discussing the value of delivering your service with passion. According to Petz, simply meeting expectations in today’s business environment is like doing nothing at all. Each customer interaction is a “show-time moment,” he said, which is an opportunity turn up the energy to make a memorable and positive impact on someone’s life – even if you believe you’re not the right person to do so. He also provided vivid examples of unlearning and relearning, on creating a unique retail experience.
Kevin Rohlwing, senior vice president of training with the Tire Industry Association, detailed the legal expectations of training and the value of formal training programs and certifications. He noted that on-the-job training does not hold up in a court of law or with OSHA if there is an accident that leads to injury or death at your business. He also explained the importance of having clearly defined roles within an organization, to recognize individuals for their outstanding efforts (perhaps a pocket full of gift cards to reward on the spot) and other ways to encourage staff to exceed expectations more often.
John Rice of 31 Inc. provided a TPMS primer, overview and update on sensors and the regulations behind their service. Because the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association sees TPMS as a safety feature (much like seatbelts), tire service businesses need to continue to educate customers on the necessity and legality of the repair or replacement of any inoperable TPMS. Even if the vehicle entered the shop with a fully functioning TPMS and the system was made inoperable by the work performed, it must leave with a functioning TPMS. With more than 150 million vehicles using TPMS on the road since they were initially mandated in 2007, Rice said that the failing batteries can be a profit center for your business. He also detailed replacement options, OE products, relearn procedure resources and more.
Jack West of Federated Insurance provided options to help make sure the most valued employees have incentives to stay with you. Suggestions included the obvious – competitive wages, performance reviews and benefits – with some innovative ideas on three-year or five-year bonus schedules, providing non-monetary bonuses based on personal interests (such as a new fishing boat or snowmobile every three years instead of a cash award), and insurance to cover the business expense of key people who leave or pass away.
Wrapping up the full day of presentations was Kevin Knebel of K&M Tire with a company update, detailing multiple ways in which the company “partners for success” within its growing network of over 1,000 Mr. Tire and Big 3 Tire dealers.
New this year to Mr. Tire and Big 3 Tire dealer partners is a Chevron oil and lubricant program that includes bulk pricing, volume discounts and in-store product opportunities. He also shared updates on consumer financing available through Synchrony Financial and how that matches up against other leading credit card options; consumer rebate programs; an exclusive program with Kumho that includes quarterly cash rewards; parts programs and rebates; new exclusive pricing on a new shop management program with Alldata; details behind an available national tire protection warranty program; Mr. Tire/Big 3 store signage options; and marketing support solutions available from the K&M design team.
The event also featured sponsored giveaways including:
• 2017 Ford F-150 4×4 Supercrew truck, provided by Hankook Tire America and won by Terry Zvolanek with Midway Coop of Osborne, Kan.
• 2017 Chevrolet 4WD Colorado provided by Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. won by Korey and Andrea Maynes of Korey’s Tires and Auto of Linden, Iowa;
• $50,000 showroom remodel provided by Falken Tires won by Bobby Davis of D and J Tire of Alexandria, La.;
• Two dream vacation getaways provided by Yokohama Tire Corp.;
• 2017 Honda Fourtrax 4×4 ATV provided by Kumho Tire,
• Plus six 60-second sessions in the Continental Cash Grab Booth filled with $100 bills for the grabbing by six lucky participants.
The exhibition attracted top tire manufacturers, parts distributors and suppliers with staff on hand to educate attendees one-on-one, answering questions and providing updates on products and programs currently available. Many guests took advantage of exclusive offers as well as multiple show-only order discounts.