In The Green
Lawn/Garden Tires Offer Dealers an Easy, Low Cost Way to Profit
With the official start of Spring 2001 only days away – except for you lucky ones in Florida, Hawaii and Southern California who enjoy great weather all year – the time is right to look at opportunities in lawn and garden tire sales.
Golf courses will be shaking off winter’s gloom, city parks will begin their annual pre-season sprucing up, high schools and colleges will be abuzz with mowers, and local residents will be dusting off the lawn and garden equipment.
While many dealers probably have shied away from the lawn/garden tire market in the past, preferring to leave these mini-units to those more closely aligned to the equipment side, there are a lot of strong profit opportunities possible those willing to promote their offering.
Because inventory requirements are not that great – and the tires aren’t that expensive – "it doesn’t really take a lot of money to get into this segment," said Dave Jones, vice president of sales for Tireco. "So the opportunities for good margins are really there."
Competition & Opportunities
There is no doubt the lawn/garden tire market has some tough competition – lawn/garden shops; mass merchants like Sears, Wal-Mart and Kmart; hardware stores and home supply retailers like Ace and Home Depot; farm supply houses; and mower shops. But most of these competitors focus their tire attention on the specific types and sizes that fit the new equipment they sell.
This leaves a big replacement market hole waiting to be filled. Jones said consumers will go to where the tires are, and are not as concerned about price as they are with availability.
Meanwhile, the list of potential customers includes golf courses, landscapers and lawn maintenance contractors, municipal and state parks, local schools and colleges, industrial companies, and plain old consumers.
It would be easy for dealers to develop supply and service arrangements with any number of large customers, and to let area residents know they are the go-to place for their lawn/garden tire needs.
Dealers really don’t need any special equipment to get involved in the lawn/garden tire market, though Kenda USA’s Hank Chang, sales manager, said tire mounting adapters are available to make the job easier.
Traditional tire dealers, said Chang, seem to be getting stronger in the lawn/garden tire market. "This is a big advantage to consumers because they have more options to choose from, and they can get reliable and expert service from dealers."
Bryan Austin, Duro Tire & Wheel’s sales manager, said dealers need to keep a close eye on the OE side of the business, and know what brands and types of equipment are operating in their market. "Dealers need to know what the equipment makers are doing today," not in the future or the past, he said.
Because so much of the replacement market is driven by what comes OE on the equipment, Chang said dealers would be well-served offering tires from multiple manufacturers to make sure they have the bases covered.
Let Them Know You’re There
While Duro’s Austin said the lawn/garden tire market "isn’t a very exciting one," there are plenty of sales and profit opportunities for aggressive dealers. Most consumers don’t really know where to go when they need tires for their riding mower. And because home centers and lawn/garden shops often change the brands of equipment they carry, consumers may find it difficult to get replacement tires from these retailers.
Professional and government customers – golf courses, landscapers, parks departments – can’t afford to take the time to search for needed tires. This puts dealers in the perfect position for sustainable and simple service contracts.
The key, according to Tireco’s Jones, is to make sure your local market knows your dealership is the place for them to handle their lawn/garden equipment tire needs. Flyers, ads in local newspapers, window signs, and even phone book listings with lawn equipment stores can help drive business to your door.
Contacting local governments, schools, golf courses, landscapers and others can get you either on the first-call list, or earn you a continuing supply and service contract with equipment heavy customers.
Because so much of the replacement market is driven through tire distributors, dealers need to seek our area wholesalers. Jones said wholesalers are a good source for advise and help in establishing their lawn/garden tire business.