Fast Furious Fun - Tire Review Magazine

Fast Furious Fun

By now, loyal readers of Tire Review and Wheel Turnings know that we spend a

great deal of time and effort to bring you the most up-to-date articles covering real-world performance tire and custom wheel topics. This month starts a two-part series that will showcase several tire/wheel dealers around the country who have set the bar even higher in their quest to attract and retain customers from all walks of life.

Time and again we have given you valuable information to help spark an idea that will propel your sales to the next level. This month and next, we’re going to spotlight a few dealers who have taken what they’ve read and have expanded beyond what many would expect from a local tire shop.

We’ve often discussed ways of promoting your business in a big way at a very reasonable cost. Case in point is Hot Wheelz of Mobile, Ala. Owner David Lee has built a tiny wheel shop into one of the premier stores in the city.

Having promoted his shop through car shows in the past, Lee recently collaborated with Greg Miller of the Whitlee Show Association, Joe Bullard Mitsubishi and a local radio station to host a huge event tied in with the release of the movie "2 Fast 2 Furious" at a local theater.

Calling a few contacts, the event was set up at the Hollywood Theater on the movie’s opening night. Lee set up the parking lot and filled it with customer vehicles that Hot Wheelz had prepared. Word-of-mouth did all the rest, along with some radio spots that were provided gratis by the equally promotion-hungry radio station. As a "sponsor" of the event, the station even came out and did a live remote, making the event even bigger.

And the star of the show was on hand to please the crowd – a new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the newest sport compact to hit the scene. Its list of accomplishments so far include a World Rally Cup Championship and a prominent part in "2 Fast 2 Furious."

Furnished by Joe Bullard Mitsubishi, and with help from Jason Pilger, general sales manager for Bullard, the car was sent to Hot Wheelz for a fresh graphics package.

Already a smokin’ ride out of the box, with 271 bhp and 273 ft. lbs. of torque from a 2.0L turbo, extensive upgrades to the car aren’t really necessary. But most Evo owners will want to change the wheels and add graphics, and perhaps body kits and other styling enhancements.

How do you put it all together? Lee tells me, "I sell anything that a customer wants. I had a guy come in the other day who started to walk out when he didn’t see any nerf bars for his truck in the showroom. I asked him to hold on and quickly opened my distributor catalog for truck accessories. I was able to make a sale because I have a wide variety of products and catalogs that appeal to more than just the sport compact market."

Hot Wheelz started as a small wheel shop and now sells and installs hydraulics, airbags, suspension components, tires, wheels, accent lighting, mufflers, intake systems, and provides many other services to round out the mix.

If you’re sitting there wondering what you can do to make your business grow, Hot Wheelz is a perfect example of what can happen if you’re willing to think outside of the box, look at other product offerings, and take a chance on trying new marketing promotions and sponsoring local events.

Remember that even though the performance market is still male dominated, there are more females (ages 18 to 25) who are involved in the sport compact segment than in any other market segment. So don’t be surprised if you see more women looking for performance upgrades and appearance enhancements for their rides.

One other thing about the Hot Wheelz event: every car and truck on the lot had performance tires and custom wheels, many, like this one, with an aftermarket performance brake upgrade, as well.

Instead of selling a simple "brake job" why not offer a total performance package that includes big stopping power to go along with the tire, wheel and suspension upgrades?

Our other dealer is O.K. Auto and 4-Wheel Drive in Stewartsville, N.J. Jim Oostdyk, president of O.K., took our advice and built a new showroom that literally draws customers into his store. He set it up with a big screen TV that shows videos reinforcing the value of the products O.K. sells. O.K. also tied its virtual imaging wheel software into the monitor, allowing customers to "build" their vehicle while sitting in sport racing seats. Jim and his staff have put a lot of time and effort into building a showroom that offers something for everyone.

While waiting in the showroom, the customer can also look at products from some of the best known names in the industry. All of this adds to building a "performance store," not just another tire dealership.

Be looking for next month’s issue to see some new and innovative display fixtures that will help you to better merchandise your products and create an attractive "selling" showroom.

Meanwhile, if you have a showroom that you feel is outstanding, or have made changes to your business like Lee and Oostdyk, send photos or share your story with me at [email protected]. You might see them in an upcoming issue.

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