Change is underway within the Tire Pros organization with a call for uniformity and consistency across the franchise network of 740-plus independently owned tire stores. At the 8th annual Tire Pros dealer meeting, hosted during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the event’s theme “One with the Pros.” The theme reinforced the call for member businesses to come together as one to strengthen and grow the Tire Pros brand – especially in the minds of consumers.
One with the Pros
Strength through unity was the concept that Tire Pros and American Tire Distributors (ATD) leadership consistently hammered home to the members in attendance. This included announcing a plan to create uniform processes and standards for increased consistency across the Tire Pros franchise network of independent tire dealers.
“As I said at the outset, it’s really about being ‘One with the Pros,’” said Ron Sinclair, chief marketing officer for Tire Pros and ATD. “We are stronger together. We’ve got 750 locations. There’s no other independent program out there with 750 locations. Even if you look at some of the national chains, at 750 stores we are power. We have power, and we can unlock that power if we work together.”
To facilitate such sweeping changes, Tire Pros has identified four core areas as essential for sustained long-term growth for the franchise – marketing, customer experience, training, and technology. The group has also established four new mission-based advisory councils for each area. Each council is made up of a diverse group of tire dealers – owners tasked with developing consistent best practices to eventually be implemented across the entire dealer network. The goal is to eventually establish a playbook of policies and procedures to increase the quality and consistency of all Tire Pros dealers.
According to Sinclair, this uniformity will help provide an exceptional in-store experience, a deeper commitment to training, more investments in technology to support changing customer expectations and preferences, and increase business value and positive recognition of the Tire Pros brand.
Also introduced at member meeting were a number of new data tools to support the measurement and evaluation of standardized operational policies once those are in place.
One of the new dealer measurements introduced was a net promoter score (NPS) tool, designed to help dealers stay informed on shop performance in the eyes of customers. The NPS tool will survey customers about their Tire Pros experience, providing valuable data on how likely a person is to recommend the shop to others, plus additional performance measurements across key performance areas (yet to be determined). Dealers using the tool will be able to track how well each of their locations is performing. They will also have an opportunity to directly address customers and situations when the scores reveal concerns. Tire Pros said it is offering NPS measurement to its dealers at no charge.
Tire Pros’ parent company, ATD, has already been using the NPS tool with success, according to Stuart Schuette, CEO of ATD.
Another new tool introduced is DemandPlus, a competitive pricing resource available to Tire Pros dealers for a small monthly fee. Through partnership with the Fitment Group, dealers using the system can query a comprehensive dataset of competitor tire prices on a national and regional level (down to the ZIP code), giving them the information and analysis they need to stock and price inventory with confidence. The tool can also support in-store conversations with price-comparison shoppers.
Sinclair provided attendees with a 2016 business update, which recognized 44 new Tire Pros stores and sales growth that outpaced the industry.
“If we look at the year, our total sales from an ATD perspective – to our Tire Pros dealers, thank you very much – the business grew almost 8% in total, and if we back out the new stores from that total, it grew 5.5%,” Sinclair said. “I think that’s extremely impressive if you think about the category and the business, if you look at the shipment results for last year, [which by comparison was] up a half percent to 1% overall in the industry.”
Regarding growth, CEO Schuette added that the current business landscape is a challenging one, more of a “take share” environment.
“Here’s a little bit of the construct of the marketplace today,” Schuette explained. “61% of the business is done by independents. There is very, very strong market dependency on the independents. You guys have done a great job connecting with your customers…. We want to help you win each and every day…. We want to protect that 61% in the independent business because it’s very, very important.”
According to Schuette, ways in which ATD and Tire Pros hopes to support and protect its dealers include: the creation of a fully integrated digital platform to better support customer interactions, new digital tools, enhanced sales capabilities, access to big-data analytics and benchmarking, improved category management based on product needs across different regions, and a further improvements to the company’s “hub and spoke” distribution network.
Schuette said, “Last year we talked about our new million-square-foot facility out in California. We’re adding one in Texas, and we’ll continue to invest in this network because this is what we’re trying to do: We’re trying to improve availability rates. [We have] some of the best availability rates in the industry, but we think we can do better….We’re already seeing the results. If you were to just go through availability without the hub and spoke, you’re talking about a 79% to 80% fill rate. With it, we average 95%. We want to get that to 98% and 99%, so that any time you need something, we have it for you.”
Quick Chadwick, director of marketing services for Tire Pros, provided an overview on activities and investments being made to advance the Tire Pros brand.
He also gave an update on fundraising efforts for The Independence Fund, a non-profit organization providing mobility device vehicles for U.S. veterans in need. Chadwick recognized several dealers for their exceptional in-store fundraising support of initiative, including Bud Luppino of Bud’s Tire Pros in Moreno Valley, Calif., Jim Dusek of Rite-Way Tire Pros in Excelsior, Mo., and Bill Prentice of Tire World Tire Pros in Colorado Springs, Colo. The three raised a combined $62,000 for the program last year.
In 2017, Chadwick said Tire Pros will push to do more across the national organization with two 8-week-long “fundraising blitz” campaigns beginning in May and November that dealers can use for promotions and “cause marketing” within their own communities.
He also detailed plans for Local Dealer Days, plus upcoming promotions such as instant rebates when using the Tire Pros Preferred Customer Credit Card.
Tire Pros will also be offering its dealers new VIP texting tools to stay in touch with dealers, dealer communications platform using Yammer, and online e-commerce tools for stronger online sales for dealers. Additionally, Tire Pros has expanded its racing partnerships and entered regional sports marketing partnerships with the NFL (Arizona Cardinals), NHL (Pittsburgh Penguins) and MLS (Real Salt Lake).
The event concluded Tuesday evening with a dinner and party at the World of Mardi Gras, including its annual dealer awards presentation followed by a private concert by the country music duo Thompson Square.
Tire Pros dealer award winners this year included:
- Rob Rogers, Redlands Tire Pros, Redlands, Calif., earning the 2016 Synchrony Financial “Rookie of the Year” Award
- Gary Thompson, EMS Tire Pros, Logan, W. Va., with the 2016 Synchrony Financial “Most Improved” Award
- Dave Boettcher, Advantage Tire Pros, Medford, Ore., winning the 2016 Synchrony Financial “Dealer of the Year” Award
- Mark Cook, Cook Tire & Service Center Tire Pros with three locations in Texas, winning the 2016 Hercules “Strongman of the Year” Award
- Jody Jarvis, Jarvis Tire Pros, Navasota, Texas, winning the 2016 “Young Tire Pros Dealer of the Year” Award
- Jim Dusek, Rite-Way Tire Pros, Excelsior Springs, Mo., honored with the 2016 Allies for Independence “Operation Independence” Campaign Winner
- Bill Prentice, Tire World Tire Pros with six locations in the Colorado Springs area, Colo., winning the 2016 “Community Partner of the Year” Award
- David Hay, Hay Tire Pros with three locations in South Carolina, winning the 2016 “Excellence in Engagement” Award
- Scott Arnott, Affordable Tire, Portland, Ore., winning the 2016 Continental Tire “Gold Dealer of the Year” Award
- Bill Lackey, Waldorf Tire Pros, Waldorf, Md., winning the 2016 “Highest Unit Increase” Award
- Eddie Hemp, Fast Eddie’s Tire Pros in Everett, Wash., winning the 2016 “Highest Unit Increase (%)” Award
- Tony Tripp, Tripp’s Tire Pros, Ayden, N.C. winning the 2016 “Highest Net Profit Improvement” Award
The 2018 Tire Pros National Dealer Business Conference is scheduled for Feb. 8-11 in San Antonio.