During its two-day dealer conference and trade show, K&M Tire showed its more than 1,000 dealers in attendance how to make the vision for their business this year become a reality.
“It’s a fact that what you speak about, what you think about, what you dedicate your energy and time to and what you focus on, that becomes your vision and that vision truly becomes your reality,” said Greg Ring, K&M’s director of training, describing the conference’s theme this year, “Vision Becomes Reality.”
K&M Tire dealers from across the U.S. descended upon Dallas, Texas for the tire distributors’ annual meeting, which offered insightful sessions on how dealers take that next step in growing their profitability, creating elite customer experiences and improving as leaders in their shop this year. Dealers also had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with K&M’s vendor partners and win a myriad of prizes totaling more than $75,000.
To kick off the conference, Tire Review Editor Patti Hoying presented the Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire Top Shop Award, powered by Hankook Tire America and supported by O’Reilly’s Auto Parts. This year, Ronda Auto Centers in Grand Rapids, Michigan, won the award, which recognizes a shop that’s gone above and beyond in the K&M Tire dealer family. Ronda Auto Centers not only received prize money for the recognition, but it will also move into the semifinals of Tire Review’s Top Shop competition.
Dave Sylvester, owner and manager of Sylvester Truck & Tire Service out of Avon, Ohio, was recognized with the Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire Commercial Tire Dealer of the year award, presented by Modern Tire Dealer Publisher Greg Smith.
To kick off the second day of festivities, Ring provided dealers a positive business update on the state of K&M. Last year, the company added a warehouse in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and another in Columbus, Ohio to better serve its dealers. It also added about 50 new routes and new staff members, which included a dedicated agricultural and commercial tire sales staff. Over the last couple of years, K&M has increased its inventory thanks to its new warehouse management system. While many in the industry may shy away from changes coming their way, K&M’s Ring urged dealers to embrace it, using K&M for support.
“If you look at what’s happening in the marketplace, it’s a lot of change and challenge. But more importantly, isn’t the opportunity with change and challenge creation?” he asked dealers. “We know that in the tire and auto service business, all the change in the marketplace impacts us immediately and directly, and we have to be ready and that’s why you’re here. That’s why we’re here.”
In keeping with the theme of creating a positive vision for the new year, K&M Tire’s sessions included:
- Motivational speaker Brian Biro, who taught dealers how to be a breakthrough leader. Biro gave a spirited presentation about what makes a good leader and how dealers can exhibit those qualities in their shop. At the end, each participant karate-chopped a 1-in. thick piece of wood, scribbled with one of their fears, to symbolize a breakthrough in their lives.
- K&M’s Ring took the stage to share how dealers can create “elite experiences” for their customers. Ring emphasized how dealers must take ownership of the tire sale because every connection they have creates an experience for the customer, which determines if they’ll come back or not. “We’re in the people business,” Ring said. “You’re serving your community, not just selling tires.”
- Kevin Rohlwing, senior vice president of training for the Tire Industry Association (TIA), spoke about what tire dealers should expect for the future of tire and automotive service. He described how combined with new technology, millennials are changing vehicle ownership, since they’re less likely to own a car and more likely to use ride-sharing apps. “Uber and Lyft drivers — they’re your customer base of the future,” Rohlwing said,” because guess what? Their cars are their living.”
- Dennis McCarron and George Kingman, facilitators of the DSP20 Group, detailed how dealers can use key performance indicators to increase their net profit this year. Some included charging customers for a tire protection plan, increasing the daily number of alignments and creating a tiered labor rate to make more off difficult jobs.
- Jeff Wallick, K&M’s program/marketing manager, and Dave Miller, director of marketing, shared with dealers the benefits of the Mr. Tire and Big 3 Tire programs. Those include purchase bonuses, exclusive rebates, financing solutions, tire protection, website services and more.
In wrapping up the day, K&M hosted its dealers for a dinner banquet and lip sync competition, in which 10 groups of its dealers dressed up and performed a wide range of hits. Rick and Cindy Pollard of Madison County Tire in London, Ohio, won the competition with their rendition of Toby’s Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” which featured Rick belting out the song in American flag apparel and Cindy gracing the stage as the Statue of Liberty carrying a sparkler to get the crowd going. They also won $10,000 prize money from Falken Tire.
The 2020 K&M Dealer Conference will take place in Columbus, Ohio, close to K&M’s headquarters in Delphos, for the company’s 50th anniversary.