How to be a Top Shop - Tire Review Magazine

How to be a Top Shop

What do I need to do to win the Top Shop Award?

There are a lot of reasons why we love hearing that question – especially because it shows just how important this honor has become to so many independent tire dealers.

The answer is both simple and complicated, so we’ve broken it down for you.

What the Top Shop Award is NOT About:

  • The Top Shop Award is NOT about being the biggest tire dealer. It’s NOT about having the most stores or most interesting history or annual sales or how long you have been in business. In fact, many winners haven’t been the largest dealer in their market, let alone the semi-finalists submitted for final judging.
  • And, the Top Shop certainly is NOT about personalities or how well you are known in the industry. This is not a popularity contest.

None of those things are how Top Shop Winners are judged. And that is exactly the way we want it. That’s why Tire Review’s Top Shop Award is considered the elite honor for the tire industry.

What the Top Shop Award IS About:

Top Shop is all about the business: what the business does day in and day out, and what the business means to customers, community and employees.

  • It is about how well you market your business – from advertising to PR to events to social media. How you reach potential customers and maintain communication and build relationships with those you already enjoy doing business with.
  • It is about your people, their professionalism, their training, knowledge and expertise. About their opportunities to shine, their relationship to your business, and to your customers.
  • It’s about the look and feel of your store location(s). They don’t have to be palaces, but are they pleasant, inviting, comfortable and efficient? Are the bays uncluttered and efficient? Is the waiting area clean, well appointed and friendly…would you spend two hours sitting there? Is the parking lot clean and pothole free? Are the bathrooms clean? Is your sales approach effective for today’s customers? Does it work for all your customers, regardless of gender or age?
  • It’s about your success and growth, not so much the final tally but what it took to get there. And about where you plan to be tomorrow.
  • It is about your relationship to the community, the level of support and involvement you lend to others. How you take a leadership role locally for the greater good, how you give back to those who brought you success, and, how the community views your business.
  • And it’s all about customer service. Not so much the by-the-book stuff – warm greetings, protecting the customer’s vehicle, etc. – but all the little things. How customer service is ingrained in the DNA of your business, from top to bottom. How it is stressed throughout, acted upon by your employees and managed by you and your management team. How your shop goes “above and beyond” the ordinary. And what you do to continuously improve customer satisfaction.

Complete, Thorough Entry Forms Will Make or Break Your Chances

Those dealerships that have risen to the top – the now 45 independent tire dealers that have won or been finalists thus far – also understand the value of a thorough entry. Throughout the years, we have been forced to throw out numerous entries from great shops simply because they didn’t offer enough information to be judged, or were incomplete.

Initial Entry

Be as detailed as possible! Explain your business like we’ve never heard of you and champion what sets your business apart from others.

Semi-Finalist Entry

Every semi-finalist is provided an Official Entry Form. The questions on the form are not at all difficult, but the level of answers – and the presentation of entry materials – can make a big difference. Remember, our five Finalist Judges are all very competent professionals in their fields, but they don’t know you or your business at all. You need to paint a complete picture for them. Use the biggest and best brushes you can.

That entry form is your opportunity to take them by the hand and walk them through your store, show them the beautiful showroom, spacious and clean service bays, brilliant store layout and super-clean bathrooms. And then introduce them to your customers and why they love doing business with you – over and over again. Then there are all of those fabulous ads, direct mailers, radio and TV spots, websites, training videos, checklists, etc. Not to mention the awards your business has earned, and all of those positive customer comments.

When it comes to semi-finalists entries, there is no such thing as too much. But a big bag of disorganized materials, photos and videos is as bad as sending next to nothing. So a professional-looking presentation – again, think about walking the judges through your entire business – is important.

There is also an important Essay Question regarding your dealership’s Innovation, and allowance for a “discretionary grade,” which judges are free to use in any way they see fit should there be a particular aspect that they feel deserves added considered.

We encourage you to go back and read the Top Shop dealer feature stories we had in our October 2017 issue – and past October issues. These dealers are doing something extraordinary, and they have opened their businesses to us so that you can see how they make it happen.

How Judging Works

So that you understand the technical aspects of the judging, there is a two-step process. First, all 20 semi-finalist entries are reviewed and judged by Tire Review, and then the Top 10 are sent to our panel of independent judges for final judging, scoring and placement. Our Top Shop judges are instructed to grade each of the entries on Marketing, Customer Service, Community Relations, Achievement, Expertise, and Appearance using a grade scale of 5 to 0, with 5 being highest and 0 being the lowest.

Judges are also instructed to rank each of the entries in the order they feel the Top Shop semi-finalists should finish. While not used specifically to elect the winner and finalists, the rankings can be consulted in the event of mathematical ties.

We hope you will take full advantage of participating in the Top Shop program, and we wish you the best of luck!