The Real Biggest Number
My 4-year-old daughter, Lauren, caught me just as I walked in the door the other night, dragging from a long day at work. “Hey Papa, guess what? Do you know what the biggest number is?” she asked excitedly as she pulled on my pant leg. Knowing that she was working on learning to count past 30, I responded, ®No, what is the biggest number?® ®A hundred,® she shouted.
For those of us used to dealing in millions and billions, 100 is far from the biggest number. But after the last few weeks, there’s more than a little truth in my daughter’s official proclamation.
There are stacks and stacks of thick books all over our offices these days, with hundreds of small sticky notes hanging out of their sides. Jim Smith’s editorial team has been picking over every page of every issue of Tire Review’s past 100 years, marking interesting stories, photos, advertisements and editorials in our research efforts aimed toward our upcoming 100th anniversary issue.
Never before had I thought that 100 was that big a number. But to go through 100 bound volumes, each representing one year of this magazine’s existence, scanning page after page of text and artwork, I have to admit that 100 is a really big number.
It has been a time-consuming but intensely interesting job. To have the entire history of the independent tire dealer and retreader and most of the history of rubber tires ®“ at your fingertips is at once amazing and rewarding.
It is especially interesting to see how this industry evolved and adjusted to changes in tire technology. When solids gave way to pneumatic tires, when tubeless tires pushed tubes aside, when radials came of age, Tire Review devoted reams of stories to helping readers understand the new technologies, and how to use them to improve sales and profits.
In hindsight, some of the technology and regulatory changes seem quite humorous, like when nylon and rayon (and later fiberglass) overtook fabric cords. The heated advertising and PR war between the tire and cord manufacturers was amazing, and carried over into the pages of consumer magazines, including by-gone gems like Look, Saturday Evening Post, and others.
What is as equally amazing is to see how the history of tire distribution and marketing hasn’t changed in many respects. Issue after issue of India Rubber Review and Tire and TBA Review (a couple of our former names) were filled with stories of how “service” was the number one way for ®tiremen® to prosper. Convention speeches, interviews with tire company executives, and case studies of dealers/retreaders were packed with the same basic advice: Those who deliver superior customer service will succeed.
How you greet customers, the care and concern you deliver, the expert assistance and recommendations you offer, the extra effort you put in with each buyer all contribute to your bottom line. It’s as true today as it was in 1927, 1944, 1962 and 1985. “Service” is an important weapon to use against discounters and mass merchants in these uneasy economic times.
There is an old saying to the effect that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I think that when it comes to delivering top-shelf service to your customers, history can be a good guide.
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Over the past year, a number of our readers have participated in an advertising campaign in the pages of this magazine. All have been gracious, forthright and extremely willing to tell their story of how Tire Review has helped them and their businesses grow.
I have to say that it was gratifying to to have so many dealers come forward wanting to participate in our “What You Read Does Make a Difference” campaign.
Tire Review reaches over 32,000 subscribers every month thousands more when you consider store managers, tire and service technicians and back office staff who also read our magazine. And based on the heartfelt comments of those featured in these ads ®“ dealers like Chris Tolleson, Tom Wright Jr., Chuck Kaiser, Keith Boyd, Alpio Barbara, Whitney and Arnold Thomas, Ross Kogel Sr., and Bill Pfeiffer ®“ we are providing useful and insightful information.
That has been the goal of the magazine since 1901. I want to take a moment to thank all our loyal readers for their continued support, good wishes and kind comments. We will remain Dedicated to Building Your Business, because we know first-hand that you do expect more from the magazines you read.