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Finally…A Colorful Picture

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Thirty years ago when I joined this industry, it was quite enough to know that there were “dozens of tire companies” (when BFGoodrich and Firestone and many others were stand-alone companies) and “25,000 independent tire dealers” in the U.S.

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That was that and no one questioned what then passed for “market intelligence.”

We had little idea what those independent tire dealerships looked like, other than what we scratched together from the occasional rudimentary mail (with a postage stamp and envelope) survey. The tire world was flat and gray, and its boundaries were set by one-dimensional questions and answers.

The most “color” we could offer, for instance, was the number of service bays the average independent retail shop had or whether they had a fax machine in the store.

Over three decades, smarter questioning yielded better data, shades of gray that expanded our understanding, but were still one-dimensional. We wanted see more color, more shape, but getting deep-dive industry-wide data was “impossible.” No one ever attempted such a significant study because it took too much time, it was too expensive, it would be too complicated.

And because it would show us things we were afraid to really know.

It was all of those things, and those barriers kept the curious and the publishers and the researchers away – even though tire dealers and tiremakers and suppliers wanted to know. Even begged to know.

Now we do know. Now, for the first time in the history of this industry, we can see a fully projectable, three-dimensional, 20/20 and full-color view of today’s independent tire dealer.

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And it’s beautiful!

In this issue, you will see some of the data collected in our first Tire Industry Benchmarking Study, a massive project we launched earlier this year with The MPI Group, which has conducted such benchmarking studies in markets ranging from heavy industries to boutique retailers.

This endeavor gave us hundreds upon hundreds of data points, a wealth of raw numbers that smack you in the face and challenge everything that you thought you knew. “Facts” that you accepted almost without question melt away when you see the reality of the tire dealer world.

This data is so much richer than anything before. It digs much deeper than the financial-based benchmarking familiar to many of you. And it will only get better!

Beginning on page 34, you can get a nine-page peek at some of the key top-line results. More data is also available on the digital version of this issue; get yours today through our free Tire Review app that can be downloaded from the Apple App Store, Google Play and the Amazon Kindle Store.

As you walk through the charts, graphs and supporting information in this analog magazine and our digital version, think about how your business stacks up, and think about how you can convert this data into actionable benchmarks that can help your dealership grow.

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Think about the possibilities. We did, and so did our Tire Industry Benchmarking Study sponsor partners Tire Pros and Pirelli Tire North America. They understood the potential, they saw the true value, and they were eager to help bring this study to you. On behalf of all of our readers, we thank them for their support.

We also thank all of the tire dealers who took the time to complete the benchmarking study questionnaire. It was arduous, we know, but the participation level was outstanding and delivered fully projectable results that transcend anything ever conducted for this industry. You really came through, and we appreciate your input.

Going forward from here, in our November issue we will present another cut from the Tire Industry Benchmarking Study: Our first review comparing those dealerships that completed the survey against the resulting data – what we are calling the Tire Review Platinum Performer Awards.

The Platinum Performer Awards will identify top performing tire dealers based on their objective results compared to the benchmarks established in this comprehensive study, and it will pinpoint those “best business practices” that contribute to outstanding achievement. In this way, participating dealers can get a true three-dimensional ‘picture’ of how they stack up against the most successful dealers.

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If you missed out on participating in the 2014 benchmarking study, don’t worry. We intend for the Tire Industry Benchmarking Study to be organic and build on itself year after year.

Study what you see in this issue – and enjoy the detail. You’ll agree, I’m sure, that color is far better than good old black-and-white.

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