Spring Fever - Tire Review Magazine

Spring Fever

Spring will be here before you know it. And that means a spike in your custom wheel and tire sales. Tax refunds, big auto events and military homecomings will soon be coming, and people will be ready to spend.

Here are some tips on how to leverage spring fever and make the most of new wheel concepts and unique marketing ideas.

What to Expect

Thanks to rapid refunds and e-filing, people are getting their income tax refunds faster these days. So you had better have stock on the floor or a dedicated delivery driver who can quickly pick up what you need from a local wheel supplier. And, most people with money in hand want their new wheels now. They will even settle for their second or third choice, as long as they can have them on their car today.

The big movers are still the 20-inchers, now almost a commodity item, and 20-inch front wheel drive offsets in 5-4.5 and 5-115 will fit a wide range of vehicles. Most popular pickup trucks and SUVs will work with 20- and 22-inch wheels with medium SUV offsets in 5-135, 6-5.5 and 5-5.5.

Also be aware that several new vehicles are sporting new bolt pattern and offset combinations. The Chevy Trailblazer/Envoy uses a 6-5 high positive offset. The 2004 Ford F-150 has changed to 6-135 high positive like its 2003/04 Expedition/Navigator siblings, and the new Caddy SRX uses a 6-115 high positive offset, as well.

Until you are comfortable knowing what wheels certain vehicles can handle, make sure you perform a dry test fit on all wheels, since new vehicles often have fitment issues.

And, don’t forget to stock up on lug kits. Nothing is more aggravating than to be ready to install new tires and wheels only to discover that you have the wrong lug nuts. Buy them in bulk for 20 to 25 cents each, and resell them for $1 to $1.25 each. Chrome sleeve valve stems or recessed hidden valves are another attractive up-sell.

If you’re concerned about having the wrong bolt pattern wheels in stock, consider a new wheel line from TSW that allows you to change the bolt pattern ®“ from 5-4.25 up to 5-120. Known as the Vari-Fit, the wheel has an insert for the lug-hole that allows you to swivel it from minimum to maximum with your fingers. As long as you install the proper hub centric ring, TSW guarantees that the wheel will not vibrate.

Timely Opportunities

One way to boost your springtime sales is to offer in-store tax return filing. Check with your local tax filing agencies for specific details on how you can work together to attract new customers who want to use their refunds to purchase tires and wheels. Local radio or TV ads will help increase traffic flow and allow you to tell listeners about in-store specials, new products that have just arrived or a planned "autorave" that you are sponsoring.

Next, check to see if any big automotive events are planned for your area where you can set up a booth and promote your business. One-day events often attract between 6,000 to 20,000 people, and the major three-day events pull more than 100,000 people into the area. Tire advice and service are always welcome by showgoers, but participants need to know where to find you.

SEMA’s International Auto Salon is now on both coasts, and there are 22 GoodGuys Streetrod Association events planned from coast to coast. And, the Minnesota Streetrod Association has an annual Back to the ’50s show in June. Last year, the event drew more than 10,000 registered vehicles. Other events include NHRA- and NOPI-sponsored events, local car shows, and don’t forget NASCAR and IRL races.

It takes several hours for fans to get out of almost any track in the country. If you’re lucky enough to be relatively close to a major venue, especially during an IRL, NASCAR or NHRA weekend, why not set up a booth at the track and have access to a captive audience that could top 150,000 people?

If you are near a military base, the first rotation of troops is about to take place and, for the next several months, young men and women will be returning stateside. Many will want to spend money on their rides.

Tailor-Made Marketing

As you know, the tire and wheel industry has become extremely competitive. In an effort to broaden the scope of our industry, several companies have developed marketing ideas that promise to revolutionize the retail tire store business to better reflect individual lifestyles.

BonSpeed is one such company. If you haven’t heard of BonSpeed, check out its Web site and get ready to be amazed. The company has moved the tire and wheel industry in a whole new direction, allowing you to tailor your offering to the individual lifestyles of consumers who want to be different.

BonSpeed offers custom, two-piece forged wheels and new "colorforged" wheels like the Laguna and Ripper. This is a two-step powdercoat with a transparent "candy" finish. Choose from five primary base colors, or let your customer choose.

Clothing apparel, watches, Rad Rides posters, books, music, hats, jackets and key chains are among the many ancillary items the company offers. If you think you can’t do this, think again. Remember that today’s UHP tire and custom wheel customers are lifestyle-oriented ®“ they want the whole package. With BonSpeed’s wholesale program, you can capture their lifestyle fancy and make a nice profit, too.

In addition to BonSpeed, check out NOPI and its line of products and apparel. If you have a Web site, you can sell NOPI apparel and earn between 6%-8% commission on each sale. The company will build a link on your Web site with your logo in the background. When someone makes a purchase through your Web site, you receive a check. The up-front cost to join the NOPI Affiliate program is just $100.

Even though the sun will be shining again soon, remember to take your blinders off and be open to new opportunities as they arrive. Instead of trying to sell the cheapest tires and wheels, offer something that your competitors don’t have ®“ and make a fair profit while you’re at it.

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