One of the key elements of running a successful tire store is convincing the customer to trust you in putting their car – and by extension their safety – into your hands. It’s not enough to simply be good at what you do, you have to convince the customer you’re good. You have to convey credibility.
Not many tire dealers can play the kind of credibility card that Kyle Cox of Cox Tire and Auto Service can.
Not sure if you can trust this man to work on your car? Well, Kyle’s mechanical skills have been put to the test as the crew chief on the president’s helicopter.
The years he spent in the Marine Corps working on helicopters very much impacted the way he goes about his work in the shop. Helicopters tend to do very poorly when mechanical systems go wrong, which means everything needs to be exactly right every time.
“When working on basically any helicopter, including Marine One, everything has an exact torque,” Kyle says. “Everything has to be perfect because people’s lives are at stake obviously, but it transfers over to automotive because everything should be (properly) torqued because again, lives are at stake.”
After five years with the Marines, Kyle and his wife (and co-owner) Jenna had the itch to own their own business. Even though Kyle hadn’t worked directly on tires before, his mechanical skills and willingness to work hard, along with Jenna’s ability to manage the business and financial aspects, made the move into the tire industry a seamless one.
Cox Tire and Auto Service opened its doors in October 2017. Kyle and Jenna specifically chose the Park City, Utah area for their shop’s location because they loved the community. In the year since the shop opened, the community has embraced it.
Being new to the industry, Kyle made a point to gather information and preferences from inside and outside the industry to design a business around those best practices.
PROUD TO BE AN INDEPENDENT TIRE DEALER
“One of the big things that helped us was we had a gentleman by the name of Jerry Fletcher of (Fletcher’s Tire and Auto Service) down in Arizona. He was extremely helpful for us,” Kyle says. “And even locally around here, we’ve talked to a few places, and owners are really receptive and they understand how challenging it can be. They’ll definitely give you some pointers.”
Jenna says the support, even from those not in the industry, was a huge help.
“Even when you’re talking to banks, how you can ask the bank if they have any clients that are in the same industry that they could reach out to on your behalf and see if they’re willing to even talk to you,” Jenna adds. “If you don’t want to talk to anyone local because you’re worried about being a competitor, then maybe you can talk to somebody out of state or just somewhere else other than your community. People were really, really willing to help us.”
The spirit of community shows up inside the shop, too. Though he couldn’t find any veterans to come work for him, Kyle often approaches his business as he did as a non-commissioned officer in the Marine Corps.
“You can’t treat the guys like they’re in the military, but you can definitely bring the leadership from the military,” he says. “(The employees) all get along very well and that’s something I wanted to create is that one person shouldn’t be stuck doing (a task). If you need help, we should just jump over and help him without even asking. And that’s the atmosphere we’ve created. We just help each other out and if there’s a customer or there’s (someone waiting), we try to team up and get them out quicker.”
Looking forward, Kyle is still trying to set ambitious goals and improve on an already strong operation.
“I think our sales are going to be much better than (the first year of operation), which we’re already ahead of where we thought we’d be,” Kyle says. “Some other goals that we’ve set is we went more training, we also want to do some possible classes, a free of charge to the community to educate them a little bit further. But, I think we’re going to just keep with what we’re doing because it seems to be very successful.”