Retail

Program Groups Help Dealers Focus on Selling

Joy Kopcha
Posted on April 12, 2018

After another tire dealer closed in Baldwin City, Kan., Bill Leach bought the building and opened his second location, Mr. Tire of Baldwin. Leach plans to open three or four more locations in eastern Kansas. “At this point anything else I would build would be a Mr. Tire.”
After another tire dealer closed in Baldwin City, Kan., Bill Leach bought the building and opened his second location, Mr. Tire of Baldwin. Leach plans to open three or four more locations in eastern Kansas. “At this point anything else I would build would be a Mr. Tire.”
Bill Leach had wanted to expand beyond his one-store tire business in Paola, Kan., for some time. So when he finally found the perfect location for a second store, about 30 miles away in Baldwin City, Kan., he was ready to roll. And one decision at least was an easy one.

He’d name his new store Mr. Tire of Baldwin, and fully incorporate it with the Mr. Tire dealer program group offered by K&M Tire Inc.

Leach’s first store, Miami County Auto LLC, has been part of the Mr. Tire program for more than three years. Tires make up about a third of his business at the Miami County location, and he expects his second store will do more tire business than that, but Leach says the tire rebates Mr. Tire offers make a big difference. “They make it easier to sell tires.”

But that’s not the only way the program helps Leach’s business. At his first store, the Mr. Tire marketing team helped him revamp and modernize his logo. One year the team designed a special T-shirt for St. Patrick’s Day. The program covered 50% of his new signage costs, and there are discounted prices for everything from oil and automotive parts to uniforms. Since the Baldwin City store opened March 1, the Mr. Tire team has created a direct mail piece that will be delivered to every household in Baldwin City.

“It makes you part of something bigger, without the franchise cost and franchise restrictions,” says Leach.

In this issue Modern Tire Dealer highlights 15 groups, and their varying benefits and services, available to independent tire dealers in the U.S. Next month, MTD will profile the associate dealer groups offered by tire manufacturers.

Group name: ATDServiceBay

Offered by: American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD)

Website: www.atdservicebay.com (ATD is in the process of developing a new site that will be accessible through dealers’ ATDOnline ordering site.)

Who is eligible? ATDServiceBay is available to independent tire dealers and repair shops that purchase $25,000 or more annually from ATD.

What is a dealer’s initial investment? None.

How many participants do you have? Approximately 20,000

How many stores do those members operate? 25,681

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? Direct mail, website design and hosting, social media branding and strategy, internet marketing strategy.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? By giving dealers access to tools that will help them compete with the big box stores and large regional and national chains.

How do you help tire dealers manage their tire inventories? ATD offers the best in class depth and breadth of inventory, allowing dealers to use ATD’s inventory rather than buying their own.

What kind of insurance options are available to your members? Do you offer medical insurance? We offer access to business insurance only.

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? Giving independent tire dealers access to warranty, credit, business and advertising vendors at no annual or monthly fees other than a minimal monthly charge for warranty programs, if dealers choose to use them.

Group name: Big O Tires

Offered by: TBC Corp.

Website: www.bigofranchise.com

Who is eligible? Individuals with a net worth of more than $300,000 with not more than $100,000 borrowed.

What is a dealer’s initial investment? $260,200 to $1,137,428 per location. The initial franchise fee of $30,000 is waived for military veterans.

How many participants do you have? 314

How many stores do those members operate? 450

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? Search engine marketing (SEM), customer relationship management (CRM), email, social media, advertising, direct mail, reputation management, brand and purchasing power, local and national marketing support, national tire network distribution channels, national TV commercials, communications and franchise integration support and customer service.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? With operational support and best practices.

How do you help tire dealers manage their tire inventories? A point-of-sale system and vast distribution network.

What kind of insurance options are available to your members? Do you offer medical insurance? None

Tire brands offered: Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal, Goodyear, Dunlop, Cooper, Mickey Thompson, Yokohama, Nitto, Hankook, Pirelli, Sumitomo, Continental, General, Big O and miscellaneous house brands.

Exclusive tires available to members: Big O Category I: Big O Legacy Tour Plus, Big O Big Foot A/T, Big O Big Foot X/T and Big O Big Foot A/S. Big O Category II: Aspen Touring A/S, Mesa A/P2, Cooper GLS Touring, Cooper Discoverer RTX and Continental SureContact and Sumitomo Tour Plus.

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? Supply chain excellence, marketing expertise, fleet, award winning channel marketing, multiple channels to support communications and online reputation management services.

Group name: Independent Tire Dealers

Offered by: Community Wholesale Tire Distributing

Website: www.ITDroll.com

Who is eligible? Independent dealers in our service area.

What is a dealer’s initial investment? None

How many participants do you have? 155

How many stores do those members operate? 170

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? We have a consumer website, in-house sign shop, and an in-house graphic designer. We also do sports marketing of our program on television and radio.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? We offer competitive pricing and multiple associate dealer programs.

How do you help tire dealers manage their tire inventories? Our salespeople work with our dealers to keep their inventory current. We also offer multiple deliveries per day to much of our customer base.

Tire brands offered: Bridgestone, Firestone, Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly, Continental, General, Toyo, Kumho, Pirelli, Mickey Thompson, Dick Cepek, Milestar and Maxxis.

Exclusive tires available to members: None

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? We are committed to individualized problem solving. We provide custom solutions to dealers based on their unique needs.

Group name: Independent Tire Dealers Group LLC

Offered by: Independent Tire Dealers Group

Website: www.itdgusa.com

Who is eligible? Independent tire and automotive dealers and distributors

What is a dealer’s initial investment? Minimum annual purchases of $200,000

How many participants do you have? 147

How many stores do those members operate? 660 in 43 states

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? Vendor partners within the group offer web developers, social media specialists, marketing campaign specialists, etc., and dealer locator identification and various consumer rebate programs.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? With a competitive buying advantage over their competition through group purchasing savings; exclusive ITDG programs that give the member a “value add” over the competition, both in products and price; leverage buying strength across all products for volume bonus and dividend attainment; and the sharing of best practices between members.

How do you help tire dealers manage their tire inventories? With practical shipping allowances from our vendor partners, which allow our members to buy more on a “just in time” basis. Regional wholesalers with daily deliveries support our vendor direct programs.

What kind of insurance options are available to your members? Do you offer medical insurance? The captive insurance company of ITDG writes workers compensation insurance for its members/owners. All members in this group have experienced a decrease in their experience modification (X-mod), resulting in insurance cost savings.

We do not offer a group medical plan currently, although it continues to be a topic of conversation as we try to find ways to better serve our members while at the same time saving them money.

Tire brands offered: Advance, Aeolus, Atlas, Cachland, Constellation, Continental, Cooper, Doberman, Falken, Galaxy, Giti, Hankook, K-9, Kanati, Kumho, Laufenn, Maxam, Nexen, Pirelli, Radar, Roadmaster, Samsom, Towmaster, Transamerica Rubber, Yokohama and Zeetex.

Exclusive tires available to members: Zeetex, a passenger and light truck tire program is a limited exclusive to ITDG.

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? The captive insurance and workers compensation insurance program, and ITDG financial, an internal financing company for owners.

Group name: Mickey Thompson Marketing Alliance

Offered by: Mickey Thompson Performance Tires and Wheels

Website: www.mickeythompsontires.com/mtma

Who is eligible? Any brick and mortar retail store that services the consumer.

What is a dealer’s initial investment? As low as eight units (tires or wheels).

How many participants do you have? 400

How many stores do those members operate? 519

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? Marketing materials for their showroom. Preferred dealer status on our dealer locator. Plus, we offer consumer rebates.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? We have one of the only programs that offers dealers exclusive incentives called Power Promotions. This is a way for members to earn above and beyond their regular reward amount. In some cases we have given back the member $100 for buying a set of four tires.

What kind of insurance options are available to your members? Do you offer medical insurance? None

Tire brands offered: Mickey Thompson tires and wheels and Dick Cepek tires and wheels.

Exclusive tires available to members: None

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? The Power Promotion is the biggest piece to make the member most profitable. We have an easy tier-based program where members can start earning rewards at 32 units purchased in a quarter. For members that buy more than 200 units in a quarter they earn $7.50/unit.

Group name: Midas International

Offered by: TBC Corp.

Website: www.midasfranchise.com

Who is eligible? Individuals with a net worth of more than $250,000 with not more than $75,000 borrowed.

What is a dealer’s initial investment? $179,130 to $435,097 per location. Initial franchise fee of $30,000 is waived for military veterans.

How many participants do you have? 800 in the U.S. and Canada

How many stores do those members operate? More than 1,200 in the U.S. and Canada.

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? SEM, CRM, email, social media, advertising, direct mail, reputation management, brand and purchasing power, local and national marketing support, national tire network distribution channels, national TV commercials, communications and franchise integration support and customer service.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? Operational support with best practices.

How do you help tire dealers manage their tire inventories? Our point-of-sale system and vast distribution network.

What kind of insurance options are available to your members? Do you offer medical insurance? None

Tire brands offered: Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal, Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly, Cooper, Yokohama, Nitto, Pirelli, Sumitomo, Continental and General.

Exclusive tires available to members: None

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? Supply chain excellence, marketing expertise, fleet, award winning channel marketing, multiple channels to support communications and online reputation management services.

Group name: Mr. Tire and Big 3 Tire

Offered by: K&M Tire Inc.

Website: www.mrtireoutlet.com and www.big3tire.com

Who is eligible? K&M dealers who are nominated by our salespeople and purchase a minimum of 400 tires per year.

What is a dealer’s initial investment? It does not cost anything to become a member. However, there are some optional programs or products that might have a fee associated with them.

How many participants do you have? 1,382 combined members on the Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire programs.

How many stores do those members operate? 1,382

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? Exclusive consumer tire rebates, website development, customized advertisements, subsidized external signage, customer loyalty discount cards, private label credit card, etc.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? Exclusive consumer tire rebates, tire purchase incentives, national account parts rebates, membership discounts for service advice/diagrams, TPMS issues and tire registrations, office supplies, a national account oil program, etc.

How do you help tire dealers manage their tire inventories? We offer detailed tire stocking advice, daily/twice daily tire deliveries (in some areas), strategic application of hub and spoke logistic techniques, etc.

What kind of insurance options are available to your members? Do you offer medical insurance? None at this time.

Tire brands offered: Passenger and light truck: Bridgestone, Firestone, Fuzion, Mastercraft, Cooper, Goodyear, Dunlop, Fierce, Kelly, Continental, General, Hankook, Falken, Yokohama, Kumho, Pirelli, Mickey Thompson, Dick Cepek, Thunderer, GT Radial and Nexen.

Commercial truck tires: Bridgestone, Firestone, Dayton, Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly, Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal, Continental, General, Roadmaster, Double Coin, Hankook, Yokohama, Supercargo, Thunderer and Kumho.

Farm/utility tires and tubes: Firestone, BKT, Mitas, Trelleborg, Cultor, Speedways Tyres, Goodyear, Titan, Alliance, Greenball, Carlisle, Galaxy Primex, Firestone and Co-op tubes.

Exclusive tires available to members: None

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? No membership fee. Many dealers benefit from our no cost program features and benefits. Our top program benefactors have earned upwards of nearly $30,000 in 2017 by simply being a member of our program and purchasing their tires from K&M Tire.

Group name: Point S Tire & Auto Service

Offered by: Tire Factory Inc.

Website: www.joinpointstire.com and www.pointstire.com

Who is eligible? A minimum qualifier is a store purchasing $200,000 in tires per year. Point S Tire & Auto Service is created by and for the independent tire and service dealer. We don’t have group participants we have owners. When a dealer joins our co-op they invest and benefit from our shared success in growth, profit, volume bonus and a worldwide brand.

What is a dealer’s initial investment? $5,000 for an ownership/voting right to the co-op.

How many participants do you have? 127 members

How many stores do those members operate? More than 200 in 15 states.

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? We offer a full retail suite of tools — a retail website, robust online marketing platforms, manufacturer exclusive incentive offers (rebates unique to Point S dealers), the Point S Loyalty Program, and access to the Point S marketing team that provides customer-centric and location-specific artwork at no cost to the dealer.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? By providing competitive options for tire purchases and the flexibility to move between manufacturers and lines which allows them to focus on quality products and margin opportunity, not unit attainment via one or two manufacturers. Competitive pricing analysis within the market also adds to their profit opportunity, and access to industry leading marketing support and programs. We harness the buying power of our group to leverage co-op exclusive sales packages that bring in new customers and the investment is funded by our Point S preferred partners, not our owners.

How do you help tire dealers manage their tire inventories? We are built on providing the right tire at the right price for our customers. That selection of tires is built around what’s most profitable for our owners and delivers value our customers demand. Owners have 24-hour access to viewing available inventory at our four warehouses. The key to that is delivery. Point S is committed to providing a delivery schedule and inventory recommendations that complements the demands of its owners.

What kind of insurance options are available to your members? Do you offer medical insurance? None

Tire brands offered: Point S preferred partners brands are: Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal, Goodyear, Kelly, Dunlop, Hankook, Laufenn, BKT and Camso. International Point S partners brands are: Nokian, Pirelli and Continental. We also carry Cooper, Falken, Yokohama, Titan and Carlisle.

Exclusive tires available to members: Pantera, Blacklion, Falken Rubitrek.

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? Ownership in the company is a mainstay of our group, and it returns profits in patronage to our owner/members annually. In addition, there’s a strong volume bonus program that counts all units toward attainment. Point S USA is backed by more than 3,600 independent tire stores worldwide to bring better-combined purchasing power.

Group name: RNR Tire Express

Offered by: SPF Management Co. LLC

Website: www.RNRTires.com and www.RNRFranchise.com

Who is eligible? Franchise candidates with a net worth of $2 million and liquidity of $500,000.

What is a dealer’s initial investment? $35,000 franchise fee with $500,000 to $1 million total working capital to operate a RNR store.

How many participants do you have? 24 franchisee groups

How many stores do those members operate? 96 stores

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? Website, social and digital marketing, and creation of print, audio and video marketing materials.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? Benchmarking performance, on-going training, creation of cutting edge marketing programs in print, audio and video, digital and social media platforms.

How do you help tire dealers manage their tire inventories? Open lines of communication within the buying group. And we nurture vendor relationships to ensure just in time inventories.

What kind of insurance options are available to your members? Do you offer medical insurance? None

Tire brands offered: Nexen, Toyo, Yokohama, Nitto, Falken, Kumho, Pirelli, Goodyear, Bridgestone, Continental, Cooper, etc.

Exclusive tires available to members: None

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? Our dealers offer the RNR “pay as you go” program to reach a whole new demographic

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Plaza Tire Service Inc., winner of Modern Tire Dealer’s 2017 Tire Dealer of the Year Award, is among the founding members of Tire Alliance Groupe.
Plaza Tire Service Inc., winner of Modern Tire Dealer’s 2017 Tire Dealer of the Year Award, is among the founding members of Tire Alliance Groupe.
Group name: Tire Alliance Groupe

Offered by: Tire Alliance Groupe Ltd.

Website: www.tirealliance.com

Who is eligible? Independent dealers, but with qualifying requirements.

What is a dealer’s initial investment? None

How many participants do you have? 20

How many stores do those members operate? 2,800+

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? Each member is independent and promotes their own brand and business.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? Better buying prices by leveraging our pooled purchasing power.

What kind of insurance options are available to your members? Do you offer medical insurance? None

Tire brands offered: Achilles, Blacklion, Pantera, Vee Rubber, Falken, Hankook, Pirelli and Yokohama.

Exclusive tires available to members: Pantera, Blacklion and Achilles.

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? Our member benchmarking sessions.

Group name: Tire One

Offered by: Tire’s Warehouse Inc.

Website: www.tireswarehouse.com/tireone

Who is eligible? Tire’s Warehouse dealers are eligible if they meet minimum purchase requirements, as well as associate dealer program requirements.

What is a dealer’s initial investment? There are no set-up fees to join the program or begin utilizing the tools in the program.

How many participants do you have? 150+

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? The tools offered include a custom retail website with search engine optimization (SEO) included, social media advertisements, Google AdWords, Yelp, postcard mailers. Tire’s Warehouse is a marketing partner that can assist with traditional advertising like newspapers, magazines, radio, television, billboards and more.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? Tire’s Warehouse has a retail price monitoring tool which helps our dealers stay competitive in the market. The tool provides Tire One dealers with competitor online retail pricing, which allows them to monitor pricing and adjust their prices to ensure profitability. Tire One members also could improve their profitability by offering the nationwide warranty programs to their customers for peace of mind.

How do you help tire dealers manage their tire inventories? The demand forecasting tool assists in optimizing inventories by analyzing demand and vehicle registration down to store location and suggests the best inventory to meet this demand.

What kind of insurance options are available to your members? Do you offer medical insurance? The insurance options include accidental death and dismemberment, life insurance, disability insurance, accident insurance, cancer insurance, critical illness insurance and medical bridge insurance.

Tire brands offered: Bridgestone, Firestone, Continental, General, Falken, Hankook, Kumho, Nexen, Toyo, Sumitomo, Yokohama, Maxxis, Accelera, Americus, Doral and Delinte.

Exclusive tires available to members: None

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? The Tire One program is designed to help dealers grow their business and stay independent. The program provides dealers with a customized retail website, which gives them the ability to sell tires online via e-commerce. The tires purchased through e-commerce will still need to be installed at the dealer’s location.

The program also has dedicated field marketing specialists who serve as the main point of contact for Tire One dealers and a liaison for all official program vendors.

Group name: Tire Pros

Offered by: American Tire Distributors Inc.

Website: www.tirepros.com/become-a-dealer

Who is eligible? Current ATD customers with high purchase loyalty and a desire to increase their car count and improve the efficiency of their operation.

What is a dealer’s initial investment? There’s an affordable entry (franchise) fee and fixed monthly fees. Discounts are available for multi-store retailers.

How many participants do you have? 500+ owners

How many stores do those members operate? 700+ stores

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? Full-service professional marketing planning and execution as well as brand development and other marketing services, such as co-op management, traffic-driving campaign development, digital marketing, graphic design, etc. A dedicated business consultancy with sales and operations support, training, benchmarking, etc.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? Effective marketing that drives more traffic and robust training and operational support to convert traffic into sales and profitability. Tire Pros/ATD helps participating franchisees by leveraging key vendor partnerships and economies of scale, and consistent implementation of known industry benchmarks and proven best practices.

How do you help tire dealers manage their tire inventories? With the assistance of ATD’s logistics expertise and supply chain model.

What kind of insurance options are available to your members? Do you offer medical insurance? TIA memberships for all franchisees, which offers preferred rates on business and liability insurance.

Tire brands offered: All major brands

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? Tire Pros offers a broad array of tools, technologies and services to drive car count and improve operational efficiency of our franchisees.

Group name: Tire Solutions Installer

Offered by: Tire Solutions Inc.

Website: mytiresolutions.com

Who is eligible? Independent automotive and tire dealers that can purchase a minimum $24,000 annually.

What is a dealer’s initial investment? None

How many participants do you have? 182

How many stores do those members operate? 182

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? Various media promotional offerings including web sites, Facebook and SEO. We focus on what works in the communities where the dealers are located. We also do a free market analysis to help the dealer set pricing.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? National accounts lower the acquisition cost on commonly used products and services. We have quarterly tire volume rebate programs. We provide marketing promotions that are affordable because of the group’s buying power. New for 2018 is our partnership with Lube – Tech, providing Mobil oil products at private brand pricing!

How do you help tire dealers manage their tire inventories? By providing free inventory exchange and timely deliveries.

What kind of insurance options are available to your members? Do you offer medical insurance? We are working on group insurance for 2018.

Tire brands offered: Toyo, Multi Mile, Falken, Hankook, Sumitomo, Westlake, Goodyear, Harvest King, Sailun and BKT.

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? Individualized marketing approach, financial benchmarking, training programs, exclusive rebates. Most important, we provide a real business relationship, we put the dealer first.

Group name: Treadmaxx

Offered by: Kauffman Tire Inc.

Website: www.treadmaxx .com

Who is eligible? Any independent tire retailer.

What is a dealer’s initial investment? None

How many participants do you have? 2,500

How many stores do those members operate? 7,000

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? Oil, insurance, road hazard, credit card, point-of-sale, website development, shop equipment, advertising, wheels, etc. We’re a one-stop shop for all retail needs.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? With sales consultation, product screen development, sales and product training, etc.

How do you help tire dealers manage their tire inventories? With car parc data around the radius of a trade area.

What kind of insurance options are available to your members? Do you offer medical insurance? No medical insurance. Customers have access to purchase liability insurance.

Tire brands offered: Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly, Toyo, Cooper, Mastercraft, Pirelli, Continental, General and Kumho.

Exclusive tires available to members: None

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? We’re a comprehensive one-stop shop for all retail needs: consumer, medium truck, farm and specialty tires and tubes, with prompt and dependable delivery logistical service.

Group name: Xpress Tire and Auto Service

Offered by: Conrad’s Tire Service Inc.

Website: dealer.xpress-tire.com and xpress-tire.com

Who is eligible? Independent automotive and light truck service facilities that want to market tires as a conduit to building and maintaining their service business.

What is a dealer’s initial investment? There is no dealer investment; it’s volume based.

How many participants do you have? 120

How many stores do those members operate? 126

What tools do you offer to help dealers reach consumers? We run, promote, and advertise a consumer facing interactive website and mobile site with a dealer locator. Dealers can display tire information, availability, pricing and the unique characteristics of their business. Additionally we actively promote the Xpress brand with cable TV advertising campaigns, billboards and direct mail. Dealers have program signage available to them where allowable.

How does your group help dealers improve their profitability? Volume rebates, sales coaching and training.

How do you help tire dealers manage their tire inventories? We run three daily deliveries and two Saturday deliveries to our dealers enabling them to access a wide range of products while carrying little or no inventory at their shops.

What kind of insurance options are available to your members? Do you offer medical insurance? None

Tire brands offered: Cooper, Starfire, Mastercraft, Falken, Goodyear, Kelly, Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal, Doral, Wild Trail and Trailer King.

What service/tool does your group offer that sets you apart? We work hard to be very “user friendly” to our dealers who in many cases are very mechanical repair oriented and not as comfortable with tire sales, technology or warranty proceedures. We process credits quickly, offer various Xpress exclusive road hazard protections. We coach, and do anything we can to keep them competitively “in the game” no matter who they are competing with. ■

Better Margins Than the Stock Market

For Danny Wright, opening two RNR Tire Express and Custom Wheels stores wasn’t so much about his desire to enter the tire business; it was a promising investment in the familiar world of rent-to-own operations. In 2012 Wright sold his previous company, Benefit Marketing Solutions, which had offered add-on services to 7,000 rent-to-own businesses in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. At the time, RNR was one of his customers.

With the proceeds of his business sale in hand, Wright decided RNR offered better margins than the stock market, and it allowed some of his family members to get involved in a new business. So DM Wright Leasing LLC owns two RNR stores in Oklahoma City, and Wright plans to open two more in the next 10 to 12 months. After that, he sees room to open another one or two stores a year.

“It’s very much in the tire business, but it offers a service to the consumer that very few other businesses offer,” said Wright. “So rather than single moms, young people or people who don’t make a lot of income walking in and shelling out $800 for new tires, they can walk in with $20 and walk out with new tires. That’s the uniqueness of the RNR experience from the regular, everyday tire store that exists in Oklahoma City. We’re not in competition with other tire businesses if they don’t offer that service. That’s the uniqueness of our business.”

He admits it takes a bigger financial investment up front. Afterall, he has to be able to afford to buy the $800 tires and not accept full payment for them when the customer walks out the door. “Before you turn that corner, it takes about six months.”

Mike Nix at the Lake Region Co-op said Tire Solutions “is my No. 1 vendor that I deal with. Nobody takes care of you like they do.”
Mike Nix at the Lake Region Co-op said Tire Solutions “is my No. 1 vendor that I deal with. Nobody takes care of you like they do.”
‘They Bring a Lot to the Table’

Mike Nix recently was promoted to general manager of Lake Region Cooperative in Buffalo, Minn., and while training his replacement, he said, “We don’t have a single vendor that will help you more.”

But Nix said Tire Solutions Inc. deserves that praise. “They will run you tires at the drop of a hat. They come twice a day. For a small business to do that for my small business — and sometimes they might deliver one tire. They don’t act like ‘maybe’ they’ll do it. They do it.”

Nix said there are cost benefits for parts and oil, plus uniforms. They offer incentives of gift cards and rebates to the sales team, plus back-side money for the business. “I couldn’t get these kinds of deals without them. They bring a lot to the table.

Austin Miller and his brothers Eric and Kyle are equal partners in the Tire Star store in Ligonier, Ind. Austin also owns a store in Wolcotville, Ind.
Austin Miller and his brothers Eric and Kyle are equal partners in the Tire Star store in Ligonier, Ind. Austin also owns a store in Wolcotville, Ind.
The Value in Dollars and Cents

It doesn’t take long for Austin Miller to describe the value of his program group in dollars and cents. Miller, the owner of two Tire Star locations in Wolcotville and Ligonier, Ind., said earning an extra 1% on his National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA) purchases paid him $6,000 in 2017. “That’s a significant amount.”

But the Big 3 Tire program from K&M Tire Inc. offers more than that. There’s marketing help. And there are exclusive tire rebates that his competitors can’t offer.

Tire Star of Wolcotville Inc. offers passenger as well as commercial tires, while Tire Star Ligonier Corp., which he and his brothers bought in January 2017, is a retail-only location. Overall, tires represent 50% of the business’ bottom line.

Miller says K&M Tire gets “98.5% of our tire business. They are well aligned with our goals. And I’ve always liked their company’s values.”

Benefits of Group Membership

As one of the founding members of Independent Tire Dealers Group LLC (ITDG), Richard Howard, president of the eight-store Bruce’s Tire Inc., said it’s easy to pinpoint the benefits of group membership.

“Number one is profitability. ITDG allows us to buy competitively to where I’m not focused on day-to-day purchasing, and me and my company can focus on the sales side,” Howard said.

And that buying covers everything from tires to office supplies. ITDG also offers a captive insurance company, where members can self-insure, but those members also own the insurance company and retain the profits. There’s a finance and leasing company that helps dealers with loans or equipment purchases when cash is right. That financing can also be used to help a dealer who wants to take advantage of good tire pricing.

But Howard said the biggest benefit has come from the relationship with other dealers. “Some of the best business minds in the industry belong to ITDG, and the networking and exchange of ideas is so huge to me. Anytime we have a meeting I come away with something.”

Related Topics: Joy Kopcha, program groups

Joy Kopcha Senior Editor & Digital Projects Editor
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Carl Jonientz, owner of Tiny’s Tire Center Point S in Tacoma, Wash., was among the dealers who brought their families to the dealer meeting. Carlyn Jonientz, 10, walked the trade show floor with her dad.
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No Rest for Point S Dealers After Successful 2017

The 212 stores in Tire Factory Inc.’s network sold 6.5% more tires in 2017 than in 2016, and they increased overall sales by 8%. There was improvement in same-store sales — dealers who have rebranded to the Point S banner increased sales by 5.5%, and those who haven’t were up 3.5%.

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