Two of 2017’s most successful tire dealers sat down with their colleagues to discuss the pressing issues facing tire distributors on Tuesday at the Tire Industry Association’s “Tires at 2” event at the SEMA show in Las Vegas.
Participating in the panel discussion on stage were Craig Wortham, chief operation officer of Alyeska Tire, the 2017 Tire Review Top Shop Winner, and Mark Rhodes of Plaza Tire Service Inc., the 2017 Modern Tire Dealer of the Year, along with moderator Kevin Rohlwing, senior vice president of training for the Tire Industry Association (TIA).
The two top tire dealers shared their respective marketing strategies with the audience.The common theme was the importance of maintaining consistent contact with potential customers and highlighting your strengths.
“Market yourself,” Wortham said. “Market what you do best.”
The Q&A session covered a wide range of topics, including potential liability issues in selling used tires, differentiation strategies to in a competitive market, and struggles in employee retention.
Both panelists and several audience members reflected on the difficulty of retaining employees on staff. The key, said the panelists, is to identify the right person for the job and find a way to keep them on the team.
“It’s easier to hire the right guy in the beginning, train him, and keep him than to constantly change,” Rhodes said.
Wortham pointed to Alyeska’s robust profit-sharing program as being a source of strength for his workforce. The bonus program for Alyeska Tire gives 49 percent of the gross profits to the employees, inspiring them to think like owners and to be mindful in the daily decisions at each of their eight locations in Alaska. “Our bonus program has changed the dynamics for us,” he said.
Another topic that received significant attention was the importance of understanding and meeting customer expectations. Rhodes underscored the importance of speed in meeting expectations. Customers, he said, overwhelmingly cited speed as the most important factor in how they rated their experience, which in the age of online ratings could make or break a business.
“The number one thing that made people happy was how long it took,” Rhodes said. “The number one thing that made people mad was how long it took.”
Both panelists agreed that it is key to set realistic customer expectations when telling a customer how long a job would take.
“Don’t over-promise and under-deliver,” Wortham said. “Under-promise and over-deliver.