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The Year-End Push

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Over the last couple of months, we’ve brought you many fresh ideas and products that can help increase your sales and enhance the appearance of your store. This month, let’s take a look at what’s selling ®“ before winter and the holidays slow the performance tire and wheel business down.

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First, it’s back to school, and that means those 18- to 25-year-olds who have worked all summer are ready to personalize their rides. This is the last hot sales peak before the year-end holidays. This time of year, money is tight, so writing huge tickets as you would in spring will be rare.

Package Buys

The growth in the sport compact car market has been fueled by these Gen Xers, and the tire and wheel packages that appeal to them are the large diameter but relatively inexpensive painted wheels and the least expensive tire that they can find. This lends itself to offering a package deal.

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As a dealer, you can capitalize on this by working with your tire and wheel suppliers to put a bundle together that you can have mounted and on the floor ready to go. The reason that tire and wheel packages work so well for this group is that the types of cars that they drive have very common bolt patterns and overall tire diameters.

This means that you can stock a set of 17-inch, 4-100/4.5 wheels mounted with 205/40R17 tires and fit everything from a Honda Civic to a Nissan Sentra to a Toyota Corolla. The other key combination would be 4-100/4.25, if you have a heavy Ford Focus market. Keep a set of 215/45R17s on hand as well for slightly larger cars like the Honda Accord and Nissan Maxima. And it would be a good idea to have a set of 17-inch, 5-100/4.5 ready to fit these and other hot imports like the Mitsubishi Lancer, Eclipse and Galant. Let’s not forget the Subaru WRX.

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Buyer’s Market

Checking with some wholesale distributors, I found some wheel deals for $55 each and tires for as little as $48 each.

With those kind of prices you can invest less than $450 and advertise a tire/wheel package deal for $650 to $700, giving you the potential to realize 30% to 35% profit. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound bad to me. It’s a quick sale that doesn’t take very much time to complete.

These types of deals can be found with many distributors this time of year. They are trying to deplete as much inventory as possible right now so that they will have the cash to buy new 2004 styles that are already being produced in time for the ITE/SEMA Show.

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Those of you who are a little more aggressive in your purchasing could take advantage of this "buyers market" and stock a few extra sets and run a similar promotion in late November. This pre-Christmas push could help you finish up the year stronger than in the past.

A word of caution, though. Make sure that you don’t stock up on a style that is old and fading in popularity or you may nullify any profit gained by having to carry dead inventory. Again, work with your distributor and ask them for styles that show good movement. Remember to stock a few sets of lug kits in 12mm x 1.5 and 12mm x 1.25 so that you can have the customer in and out without delay.

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Don’t forget about cross marketing products in your store, as well. Tire and wheel cleaners, waxes and protectants are consumable goods that offer nearly 50% gross profit or higher in most cases. A small sample at the counter or display case will be the perfect add-on. Why let the customer drive out of your store and over to the parts store to buy what you can provide? Especially with winter weather just around the corner?

Market Capitalization

Another market that you may not be aware of is the military. Did you know that many branches of the service offer a "signing bonus" to new recruits? Several thousands of dollars in some cases. Most young people who enlist have only their car to spend money on. They get a few grand in their pocket and they want to personalize their car for cruising around the base.

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This leads to another point. At some point the initial waves of service men and women will be returning from the Middle East and may be looking to spend some of that combat pay on their vehicles. Developing a good relationship with Gen Xers and military personnel will help increase your business and lead to repeat customers.

The last market to capitalize on this time of year is the winter tire market. Using the same scenario as with sport compact cars, you can easily buy plain black steel wheels for RWD and FWD cars for $20 to $25. Then add some good winter tires and create a saleable package.

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Most customers would rather not run their expensive wheels through the winter, or risk damaging them with a tire changeover. And fewer want to slip and slide through winter. Offering suitable, safe winter tire/wheel packages can be an easy sell, especially if you include free winter storage of their regular tires and wheels. Most FWD steel wheels are built in multiple bolt patterns so that you can fit a variety of cars with just one wheel.

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas to help you through these last few months. Make plans to come out to Las Vegas and see us at the ITE/SEMA Show. Stop by the Tire Review booth. We’d love to meet you and hear your comments on how we can provide the type of coverage and information that will help you to continue to grow and succeed.

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Most of all, while you’re at the show, ask questions, listen and learn. You can come up with a lot of great ideas, and make some good connections that can help you realize your goals.

Good luck!

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