“So, what do you hear out there?” If you merely read the words, this question makes no sense whatsoever. What you “hear out there” could be the blood-curdling screams of hungry coyotes or your spouse pointing out the error of your ways (if the latter is the case, the coyotes may be more pleasant).
But among tire people, the query’s meaning is crystal clear. It decodes thusly: “What have you heard about tire sales around the rest of the (country, state, region)?” It’s a verbal recon mission; the questioner is gauging his/her current status and future prospects. People who ask this question want to know how they stack up – if what they are experiencing is a trend or fad. Or worse.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question. Enough over the last 23 years, I suppose, to be “If I had a nickel…” rich. But I’ve never had a good answer, just a gut feeling based on second-hand, never quantifiable, superficial, anecdotal information. Sure, there are raw tire shipment figures to look over, but those are no measure of real-life, frontline retail or commercial activity.
In the past, the realities of the real world made getting real-world sales data impossible. No one – dealer or magazine publisher – had the timeto pull all that data together.
After years of puttering along, using variations of the, “Things seem pretty stable out there” non-descript answer, I am pleased to tell you that we finally – and confidently – can answer the age-old question: “So, what do you hear out there?”
For the last several months, we have been working with Marketplace Insights Ltd., a national marketing consulting and research firm serving the tire industry, and its head honcho, John Montgomery, to develop a monthly national retail activity survey. John and his team work with a number of corporations to mine performance data and create timely metrics. We’re applying MI’s accomplished approach to give you a virtually up-to-the-minute report on U.S. retail tire and service sales activity – by tire dealers for tire dealers.
Dozens of tire dealers like yourself are regular participants in the survey, giving us a data field that stretches from San Diego to Bangor , Maine . Each month, these dealers tell us how their sales stack up compared to the month prior and the same month last year. Best of all, these dealers break it all down, giving you specific comparative sales data on broadline, performance and light truck/SUV tires, as well as undercar and underhood service.
Each month, you’ll see firsthand data comparing sales year-to-year and month-to-month. And, as we move forward, we’ll be breaking that data down by regions. So, not only will you get a sense of the overall market, you’ll be able to gauge your results against others closer to home.
Here is the best part: Any tire dealer who subscribes to Tire Review is welcome – hell, encouraged – to participate. Each month, those who sign up will get a short e-mail survey. Takes all of five minutes to complete. Tops. I’ve timed it. And, the more data points we have, the more precise the results.
Something you’ll be able to use? We think so. Something you’ll want to contribute to? We hope so.
Oh, almost forgot, each survey also collects your comments on the current issues or trends that you see in the trenches. Here are some from our first completed surveys:
“I am beginning to see decreased value for the dollars I am spending with suppliers. Things like co-op being cut out.”
“Auto dealer programs are a strike against the local tire dealer. These auto dealers used to be our customers. Now, they are our competitors. And, who do we have to thank for this? Our suppliers.”
“Increasing gas prices and tire prices are forcing us to adjust our prices. It’s a problem getting them to stick with our customers.”
Our very first Retail Barometer appears on page 22 of this issue, compiling data we collected for February, March and April sales. In the next issue, we’ll have May results, and so on.
If you’d like to be a part of this groundbreaking study and are willing to give us five minutes of your time each month, please contact John at [email protected] or 530-872-5568.
On the last page of this issue is a column by our publisher, David Moniz, who has another announcement I know you’ll be interested in. I’m not going to steal Dave’s thunder, but I do want to make sure you take a few minutes to read his column.
I mentioned in February that you would see some new things from us this year. Today, we are unveiling two of them. Hang on to your hats because we’re not done yet!