At Best-One of Indy, success is built in from the top down, as well as the bottom up. The tire dealership, with 15 locations in central Indiana, adheres to four core values, which are the driving force in everything its staff does, from the leadership team to the techs and customer service staff running the shops.
The dealership, part of the Best-One Tire & Service organization founded by Paul Zurcher in 1948, has been in business for 36 years and employs 197 full-time employees and six part-time team members. Through the Best-One partnership, Best-One of Indy leadership enjoys the autonomy to run the business as they see fit, while also having access to the collective buying power of the larger organization, which spans 275 locations in 26 states.
“We find the model is extremely effective because we receive the corporate support, connections … and purchasing programs, but we still have the privilege and the responsibility of living by our core values and making sure we are ‘Creating Raving Fans’ of our internal and our external customers,” says Rich Elliott, president of Best-One of Indy.
It’s those core values and the “Mission of Creating Raving Fans” that makes Best-One of Indy among the finest in North America, and earned it the honor of being named a finalist in the 2022 Tire Review Top Shop Awards, presented by Coats.
Company History and Growth
Best-One of Indy opened in 1986 when Paul Zurcher, Dennis Dickson and Ray and Scott Monteith formed Indy Tire Club. The name changed to Indy Truck Tire Center, then to Indy Tire Centers in 1991 — the same year the dealership grew from one to six locations, according to Elliott.
“In 2018, we adopted the Best-One name, calling ourselves Best-One of Indy,” he said. “This enabled us to more closely identify with the Best-One organization.”
Before and after that point, growth had been steady, with two more stores added in 1997, one in 2006 and another in 2019. In 2021, the shop acquired six more stores. The closure of one store in 2022 brings the dealership to its current 15 locations.
Regarding that large expansion in 2021, Elliott says that multiple factors aligned — the COVID-19 pandemic, hiring challenges and a number of tire dealers looking for an exit strategy.
“COVID was tough on everyone, and then the employment situation hit and it was tough to find and keep people,” he says. “There’s also a certain number of tire dealership owners who got into the business in a similar timeframe. They hit the time that they felt like they wanted to exit, and we became a good exit strategy for them.”
While more companies have contacted Best-One of Indy seeking an exit strategy, the dealership only acquired those locations that made sense for its business plan and geographic coverage, Elliott adds.
Today, Best-One of Indy is owned through the Best-One organization by the Zurcher family, Scott Monteith, Dot McKenzie, Chris Fox and Scott McKenzie. Best-One of Indy is operated by its leadership team, made up of Elliott; Controller Joe Kraus, who oversees the administrative office; Vice President Scott McKenzie, who oversees the three commercial operations; and Vice Presidents Scott Monteith, Chris Fox and Nick Howe, who share duties overseeing and working with the 14 retail stores.
“While we have these defined roles, our leadership team members are actively engaged with our stores,” Elliott says. “You may find Chris unloading tires, Nick helping out behind the counter, Scott McKenzie making sales calls on fleets, or Scott Monteith working with a store manager to help them become more effective in their role as a leader at that given store. After we acquired Riley Park Tire in Greenfield, I became the designated customer courtesy shuttle driver, which enabled our counter sales team members to stay at the store, creating raving fans. Whatever we need to do, we do.”
A Refined Marketing Mix
Best-One of Indy’s marketing techniques reflect the first of its core values: Accept the urgency of accountability and the necessity of change.
“As the media landscape changes and how customers want to receive information evolves, we recognize that what may have worked last year may no longer be relevant,” states the dealership’s Top Shop entry form. “In order to achieve our key results, we know we have to change.”
Best-One of Indy has maintained its outdoor billboard presence and annual radio campaign to keep a steady branding message, but has placed more emphasis on digital strategies including SEM, Google My Business pages, Google AdWords, Yelp pages, social media pages and its website (bestoneindy.com).
Under the guidance of Trula Womack, director of marketing and brand excellence, the business focuses on drilling down to its customer base, rather than sending broad messaging anywhere it can. This includes cutting-edge techniques like OTT, streaming audio, podcasts, mobile geofencing, email marketing and retargeting, as well as tangible strategies like customer appreciation events, community involvement and a mirror hang tag coupon and referral system.
“It’s very rare that something will leave our stores without a code on it,” Womack says. “We code everything, and we track everything, whether it’s a coupon or a gift card that we’ve given out at an event, or a mirror hang tag that we’ve put in a customer’s car.
“The way things are able to be tracked and monitored, and the simplicity of being able to analyze the data, makes our job so much easier to actually pinpoint what’s working and what’s not working,” she adds. “So many people get caught up in the sophistication of the choices available today, but being able to analyze and make changes in real time, that’s leaps and bounds from where we were so many years ago with traditional media, where you just had to wait and hope that things worked.”
No matter the strategy used, one of Best-One of Indy’s goals is to connect with customers on an emotional level, which is demonstrated throughout its marketing creative. This includes using team members — emphasizing the relationships the staff has with customers — in creative elements, from service messages to branding to recruitment. It’s also evident in the shop’s social media presence, which does feature some promotional messages, but primarily focuses on branding and feel-good images, including how the dealership helps frontline heroes.
Finally, Best-One of Indy uses its involvement with Minor League Baseball’s Indianapolis Indians — for which it is an exclusive naming rights partner for the Best-One Picnic Area, located in left field — to cap its brand awareness campaign.
Serving Customers & Community
The shop’s community involvement and commitment to treating customers like family embody the next of its core values: Possess a servant’s attitude.
Best-One of Indy’s philanthropic efforts are numerous, including local charities and organizations in which team members are involved, as well as local humane societies, food pantries, schools, sports teams, 4-H clubs and Toys for Tots.
Each year, the shop holds a free charity golf outing for commercial fleet customers. Through silent auction donations, more than $15,000 has been raised over the last five years for local humane societies. Best-One of Indy also sponsors Mutt Strut, in which participants are encouraged to walk their pet downtown to raise money for a local humane society.
For three years, the dealership has held a “foodraiser” program called “Wipe out Hunger and Spread Some Love,” which involves team members and customers donating jars of peanut butter and jelly to restock the shelves of local food pantries. Each donation earns customers a free pair of wiper blades and the effort has resulted in more than 4,400 jars collected in three years.
“We’re not a national chain, we really are local people,” Womack says. “It’s so important for us to take care of each other, and to help those organizations who are helping others. We’re very fortunate to be able to do that beyond the walls of our stores.”
This servant’s attitude — and the Mission of Creating Raving Fans — extends to Best-One of Indy’s customer service, as well.
All stores have free Wi-Fi, comfortable showrooms (with tire displays removed), free beverages, and workstations for customers who need to stay connected. In 2020, the shop began a free delivery and drop-off service — outside its normal shuttle service — and has kept this in place past the pandemic.
The customer’s experience doesn’t end when they leave the dealership. Within 24 hours, the staff sends a text inquiring about the satisfaction level of their experience. This review-generating message is personalized with each customer’s name, and when they send feedback, they are acknowledged by a team member.
“Having that human interaction is what it takes to lay the foundation needed in building a long-lasting relationship with our customers,” states the entry form. “We believe that starts with recognizing that a customer is just that — a human — not just a vehicle we have to service.”
“It goes back to our Mission of Creating Raving Fans,” says Nick Howe, vice president. “To me, that means more than just meeting customer expectations. It’s exceeding those expectations to a level to where they want to tell others about the experience they had with us.”
Employee Training & Retention
Best-One of Indy’s treatment of its team members embodies another core value: Commit to the pursuit of perfection.
New team members complete an onboarding program, held at one of the retail locations, with a designated upper-level technician as the trainer. Afterward, there’s a General Service Training program, in addition to a NAPA Best-One Apprentice Program, which is a series of 16-day workshops designed to teach a team member the required skills and techniques that will lead them to become an ASE Certified Tech.
Techs receive the appropriate TIA 200 or 300 certifications, and all team members complete a yearly OSHA training program.
Selected managers, administration staff and sales team members join John Maxwell Leadership Training groups, which is a five-year program that involves quarterly group meetings.
In addition, monthly meetings with managers and assistant managers cover P&Ls, upcoming goals, marketing plans, operational highlights, and information about any new tire lines. The monthly meetings also generate open discussions about what’s working at each location, so all stores take away some new ideas.
“Effective communication is always a challenge, and we certainly haven’t mastered it, but we definitely have found ways to open communication among our team members,” Elliott says. “We empower our store managers to run their locations. We stress the importance of frequent and effective communication through regular contact with our people each day … and at monthly meetings. Our managers are all accountable to their stores. We show each store’s numbers in those management meetings, so they can see how they’re doing compared to their peers. It fosters some competition to get better and brings out many best practices.”
Best-One of Indy communicates with all team members weekly using the community announcement section in its payroll system, and quarterly through its “Quarter Mile” digital newsletter. With content centered on and provided by team members, both communication tools have become popular, Womack says.
Team members at the dealership know they are valued, according to Elliott. This is achieved by treating them like family: appreciation events, team parties, awards, bonuses, and involving them in important decisions.
“It starts with making sure our team members know that they’re not just part of the team, but contributing members to the overall organization — regardless of what their position is,” Howe says. “Team member and family-focused events throughout the year are fantastic, but at the end of the day, it comes back to making them feel like they’re a part of the family: taking an active interest in their lives and genuinely caring about their wellbeing.”
For the past three years, the business has participated in a company-wide satisfaction survey to discover how it can continue to serve its team members, its “internal raving fans,” according to Elliott.
“This has given us valuable data that we’ve used to focus on the things that are important to our people, so we can serve them better,” he says.
Obstacles vs. Opportunities
The dealership’s belief in doing things right, with enthusiasm, and while adhering to the highest ethical standards — even when no one is watching — stems from its fourth and final core value: Live with integrity, character and passion.
“Living out this core value helps us to achieve our three other core values, which in turn drives our ‘Mission of Creating Raving Fans’ that will ultimately help us to achieve our vision to be the leading and most trusted provider of tires and services in all of our geographic markets,” the business’s Top Shop entry form states. “Our company culture is built around our vision, mission and core values, but at the end of the day, it is how we remain committed to weaving them in on a day-to-day basis with our team members and customers that truly elevates our company and makes us a Top Shop.”
While there have been challenges along the way, the mindset of the Best-One of Indy team has helped the dealership thrive over the decades.
“I’ve always seen challenges as opportunities to get better and grow, and that’s how we live our lives at work each day,” Elliott says. “If all we see ahead of us are challenges and not opportunities to get better, then we’ll be mired in those challenges.”
This includes recent obstacles like hiring and retaining qualified team members, as well as supply chain issues. While the former is managed by the methods mentioned above, the latter involves not only acquiring tires and parts, but having the wherewithal to pay for the excess inventory needed to keep things in stock, according to Elliott.
“That puts a strain on cash flow, which is critical to keeping every business going. It seems to be tougher to do that today than it has been in many years,” he says.
Another recent challenge was acquiring five separate businesses, a total of six locations, in 2021.
“That kind of explosive growth in one year is definitely a huge opportunity or a huge challenge,” Elliott says. “Each business we acquired was already family-owned, but they all had different cultures. That expansion of adding about 90 team members into our fold was only accomplished because of the strength of our entire support team. Our people really proved how great they all are in embracing that change.”
The shop grew its team by 82% last year and its revenue and assets increased by 37%. This year, Best-One of Indy is on track to grow its sales by another 50%. Simply stated, the future is bright.
“That growth is not solely due to the locations we added,” Elliott says. “We’ve been here for 36 years and we intend on being here for another 36 years, even though the faces and names may be different,” he adds. “The future — with the markets we serve and being a part of the Best-One organization — is as bright as it’s ever been.”