At its 8th annual dealer meeting in New Orleans, Tire Pros and American Tire Distributors (ATD) leadership set the foundation for the future direction of the tire dealer network. This included the introduction of new advisory councils, new dealer tools and the beginnings of standardized practices across its network of independent tire dealers.
During the conference on February 27, speaker after speaker (including several panels that featured Tire Pros dealers) built a case for change – for the independent tire businesses to come together as one; a change seen as a necessity in order to strengthen and grow the 740-plus shops that make up the Tire Pros family.
Ron Sinclair, chief marketing officer for Tire Pros and ATD, provided attendees with a 2016 update, which recognized 44 new Tire Pros stores and ATD sales growth that outpaced the industry.
“If we look at the year, our total sales from an ATD perspective – to our Tire Pros dealers, thank you very much – the business grew almost 8% in total, and if we back out the new stores from that total, it grew 5.5%,” Sinclair said. “I think that’s extremely impressive if you think about the category and the business, if you look at the shipment results for last year, [which by comparison was] up a half percent to 1% overall in the industry.”
While the look back at 2016 was positive, most of the conversation was on the future, providing the outline to increase franchisee value and to continue that growth.
“Tire Pros must embrace and drive change,” Sinclair said. “Change is coming. Consumers are changing; you know that as you’re with the customer every day. Technology is driving the change with customers and so the question becomes how do we not just accept change or face change, but how do we embrace it and get ahead of it and drive that change.”
In addition to anticipating and quickly responding to shifts in consumer behaviors and expectations, Tire Pros is shifting its focus on increasing uniformity across its dealerships. To date, the Tire Pros network of independent franchised tire stores has been dealer-driven but not unified. Sinclair said the goal is to change that, to remain dealer driven but with increased uniformity. According to Sinclair, this uniformity will help provide an exceptional in-store experience (measured by customer surveys), a deeper commitment to training, more investments in technology to support changing customer expectations and preferences, and increase the value and recognition of the Tire Pros brand for its dealers.
To advance the four core areas – marketing, customer experience, training and technology – identified as essential for sustained long-term growth for the franchise, Tire Pros has established four new mission-based, member-driven advisory councils. Each is made up of a diverse group of strong tire business owners tasked with developing consistent best practices to eventually be implemented across the dealer network. The goal is to eventually establish a playbook of policies, procedures and best practices to increase the quality and consistency of Tire Pros dealers.
Other event highlights:
Stuart Schuette, CEO of Tire Pros’ parent company, ATD, provided an update on ATD’s use of the net promotor score and the continued investments being made in people, technology and resources to maintain their advantage in an increasingly competitive, somewhat flat marketplace.
A new net promotor score (NPS) tool was introduced, designed to help Tire Pros dealers stay informed on shop performance in the eyes of customers. The NPS tool will survey customers about their Tire Pros experience, providing valuable data on how likely a person is to recommend the shop to others, plus additional performance measurements across key performance areas yet to be determined. Dealers using the tool will be able to track how well each of their locations is performing. They will also have an opportunity to directly address customers and situations when the scores returned reveal concerns. As part of the ongoing investment in their dealers, Tire Pros said it is offering this to its dealers at no charge.
Another new data tool now available is DemandPlus, a competitive pricing resource available to Tire Pros dealers for a small monthly fee. Through partnership with the Fitment Group, Tire Pros dealers using the system can query a comprehensive dataset of competitor tire prices on a national and regional level (down to the ZIP code), giving them the information and analysis they need to stock and price inventory appropriately and with confidence. The tool can also support in-store conversations with price-comparison shoppers.
Quick Chadwick, director of marketing services for Tire Pros, provided an overview on activities and investments being made to advance the Tire Pros brand. He also gave an update on fundraising efforts for The Independence Fund, a non-profit organization providing mobility device vehicles for U.S. veterans in need. In 2017, Chadwick said Tire Pros will push to do more across the national organization with two 8-week-long “fundraising blitz” campaigns beginning in May and November that dealers can use for promotions and “cause marketing” within their own communities.
“As I said at the outset, it’s really about being One with the Pros,” Sinclair told the audience. “We are stronger together. We’ve got 750 locations. There’s no other program, independent program, out there with 750 locations. Even if you look at some of the national chains, 750 stores, we are power. We have power. And we can unlock that power if we work together.”
Attending the event, which overlapped the city’s famous Mardi Gras celebration, were more than 740 dealers and their guests as well as supplier partners. The event concluded Tuesday evening with a private dinner and party at Mardi Gras World, including an award presentation and private concert by the country duo Thompson Square.
Tire Pros also announced the 2018 Tire Pros National Dealer Business Conference is scheduled for Feb. 8-11 in San Antonio.