When Nate Fujarski opened Shores Car Care in 2002 with his brother, Karl, and father, Larry, the trio had no intentions of getting into the tire business.
For about 10 years, the family-run shop in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, located just north of the Detroit metro area, strictly focused on service and repair. Karl was a master technician who specialized in a niche market servicing Volkswagen and Audi vehicles; Larry had experience as an automotive service manager and store manager; and Nate had a strong background in retail. Larry eventually stepped away from the business, handing off ownership to his sons.
Today, Shores Car Care is still known for its excellent service and repair work, but Nate says it was the decision to get into retail tire sales around 2012 that propelled the business to the one-stop shop it’s now known to be.
“In the beginning, we almost thought it (tire sales) was going to be more of a headache than it was a benefit, but in retrospect, we certainly would have embraced that thought process much sooner,” Nate says about becoming an independent tire dealer. “We do realize the importance now of really trying to capture that tire business, to get those customers in and allow us to earn their business and their trust and allow us to take care of all their car needs.”
That last bit – earning customers’ trust – is one that Nate says his business takes very seriously. That trust, he says, allows his shop to reach out and receive honest, on-the-spot customer feedback, which, in turn, helps Shores exceed expectations during their next visit.
To do this, Nate and Karl start by earning the trust of their employees. This means hiring people who will fit in with Shores’ family values and giving employees the ability to participate in training opportunities — from online courses to attending certification classes — as well as offering tuition reimbursement.
“One gentleman started with us about four years ago and took advantage of our tuition reimbursement,” Nate says. “He was actually a butcher, and he’s now an ASE Master-certified technician. He’s our head guy.”
Shores employees also keep customers updated from start to finish during repair and service work via as many communication avenues as possible, including email, text alerts and even sending photos and video.
“A picture’s worth a thousand words, so rather than potentially missing a sale, we ensure that a picture of every item that is necessary, from a safety standpoint or even a maintenance standpoint, is uploaded, and we’re sending them to the consumer so they can actually see what we’re talking about,” Nate says. “It’s not only a benefit to the consumer, but it’s another tool for our guys in the back to use so they can produce success.”
When it comes to tire sales, Shores works with multiple wholesale distributors and vendors, ensuring they can quickly obtain any brand a customer is looking for. The shop also partnered with Goodyear about five years ago, giving Shores access to more enticing rebates and incentives for that brand.
Nate says he believes his shop’s recent focus on the tire end of the industry lets him take better care of his customers, which he hopes will lead to opportunities for the Fujarski family to expand and open new locations.
His advice to other independent tire dealers who offer service and repair is to leverage tires to maximize profits.
“Knowing what we know now, I would say embrace the tire business. Utilize that as another spoke in the wheel. There’s a lot of back-end profit in there, not necessarily on the tire per se, but on the services — be it the balances, the alignments and now TPMS,” Nate says. “Nowadays, I don’t think anybody can just survive as a tire store, and I don’t think anybody can just survive as a repair facility. They have to embrace both ends of the spectrum.”
Check out the rest of the July digital edition of Tire Review here.