Jim's Blog: Making Lists and Counting Heads - Tire Review Magazine

Jim’s Blog: Making Lists and Counting Heads

We’re often asked why Tire Review doesn’t publish "Top" lists, like a rundown of the biggest dealers, retreaders, tire companies, etc. Sometimes, though not as often, we’re confused with others that do produce such lists.

The reasons we don’t endeavor these exercises are simple. First, there are plenty of them to go around. One more will make no difference, and would further muddy an already swampy pond. Second, and more importantly: How does one legitimately determine who is biggest?

Does one create a list based only on revenue? Or real value of the businesses? Is it on tire sales only, or a mix of all sales? What about number of locations? Years in business? When it comes to tire companies, do you count global sales or just North America? Do you include non-tire sales? Number of customers? Revenue vs. profit? And just how reliable is the information used to construct those lists?

To us the lists are interesting – and there are folks who love seeing them – but truly, when it comes right down to it, what does they really mean? How does that information improve the lot of a typical independent tire dealer?

Speaking of independent tire dealers, another bugga-boo with sizing up the market, as they say, is just what companies should be included?

If you are counting “tire retailers,” then your list should include everyone – Sears, Walmart, Costco, Tire Rack, the whole lot. But then one wonders just how fair a comparison that draws.

Defining a true “independent tire dealer” is fraught with its own perils. By our humble definition (an entirely independent company whose primary business is the sale and service of tires), mega-giant Discount Tire is a true independent. Sumitomo-owned TBC (NTB, Merchants, Tire Kingdom, Big O franchised stores) is not. Monro Muffler & Brake and all its derivations? No. Bridgestone- and Goodyear-owned stores? No. Pep Boys and Rent-a-Wheel? Nope and nope.

Big O is a tough one because on one hand the franchisees have a financial interest and are independent businesspeople; on the other, the business is primarily controlled by TBC, owned by Sumitomo. Similar situation with other franchised businesses. So…

Marketing Groups, those counted together in a lump under one name, are certainly independent tire dealers, but should not be counted as one. Rather, each participant is a single independent dealer, in our view.

Making these lists is a tough job. I know this first hand. My hats off to those who do all of that research, and I do think readers enjoy seeing them. But, as you can see, there are so many variables involved, that coming up with a realistic measuring stick is, at the very least, quite difficult.

Rather than counting them, though, I would much rather spend my time developing real-world information to help preserve the health and future of the true independent tire dealers that exist in North America. Because if we don’t, there won’t be many true independents left to count.

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