We asked members of our National Advisory Council (NAC) what was on their mind. They responded with:
The election. Which way will it go and what will it mean for small business, in particular small, independent tire dealers and their customers? The Chinese government’s response to the recently imposed tariff will probably mean additional tariffs on American goods and services rather than lowering barriers for American companies doing business in China. China moved quickly to retaliate for the tariff on Chinese tires with punitive duties on American products. Because the Chinese market has become critical for many American companies — whether Apple, Starbucks or Boeing — any steps taken by the Chinese government to curtail their ability to operate in China would be bad news for them. Mr. Trump’s tariff proposal addresses a real and legitimate concern about the effect of competition from low-wage countries on American workers. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to solve the problem — and it could create even more.
Tripp Lee, General Manager
Frasier Tire Service Inc.
Manufacturers’ aggressive intro into retailing units online in direct competition to dealers.
Richard H. Estes Sr., Vice President
Estes Warehouse Tires Inc.
After last year’s funny winter season in the Northeast — late snowfalls — how are dealers anticipating this year and how will the last months of the election impact business with so much uncertainty?
Jon Shields, Field Sales and Training
Carroll Tire Co.
Each month we ask members of our National Advisory Council (NAC) a question or questions on a current hot topic. Recently we asked, “If you were 21 years old again, would you choose working in the tire industry as your career? If not, what would you do instead? If yes, what makes a career in the tire industry so worthwhile?” Here are some of their responses.
- I would absolutely pick this industry again. This is the best industry in the world. What other industry gives someone the opportunity to become a superstar in their town? Every police officer, firefighter, judge, politician, business person, teacher, lawyer wants to know a trusted person in the tire and auto service industry. If you do it right, you can be that person! Everyone needs tires or auto service at some point. Build a relationship with all of these people and become the superstar of your town! Plus every tire you sell and install will go on someone’s vehicle and help them drive safer, guaranteed! Who wouldn’t want to do that as a living?
- Yes, I would be in the tire business. I would work harder to understand the employee. I would take classes on how to get into the employee’s head. Understanding the tire business is second to understanding the employee.
- Yes. I had two job options as my GI Bill money ran out for my last three quarters of college. I chose the tire industry over being a police officer. The year was 1990 and the jobs were not plentiful as Desert Storm and other events affected the economy. Working with other gearheads and down-to-earth folks makes our industry worthwhile. Additionally, it’s satisfying to educate a consumer and earn their trust.
- Yes, but it might make a difference since I am an owner. Overall, the business is very rewarding (not necessarily from a monetary standpoint) and is very challenging every day.
In August, we asked, “With more companies selling tires direct to consumers online, do you feel you should be selling tires online, too?” Here are some of their responses.
- I don’t feel we have any choice but to follow suit.
- This is the way the consumer wants to shop. Things don’t work out well for businesses that ignore consumer demand. Online sales also can mean increased car count and new customers for dealers. It’s difficult for an individual dealer to come up first in an initial Internet search. But manufacturers have the capacity to come up pretty high. If somebody in your town is looking for a particular tire, he might not know if his local dealer carries it. But if the dealer aligns with the manufacturer, the consumer could discover that the dealer right across the street carries the tire. Even if the sale is through the manufacturer, the customer still goes into the brick-and-mortar shop. If you build loyalty, these customers will keep coming back to you.
- If that becomes a channel of any significance, we will pursue it.
- A very small percentage of tires are sold online and thus far in limited markets. I believe a lot has been made about this. However, I do believe that dealers need to have some type of online presence in order to be competitive. Additionally, most dealers pull customers from a market within a five- to 10-mile radius from their store. Thus focusing on your backyard and what you can control is probably more significant.
Join Modern Tire Dealer’s National Advisory Council
Each month, Modern Tire Dealer is guided and influenced by a select group of readers — members of our National Advisory Council. These members’ opinions are the heart of the monthly Your Marketplace column, compiled by industry analyst Nick Mitchell. If you’d like to join this prestigious group, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you. Contact Editor Bob Ulrich at Bob.Ulrich@bobit.com or call (330) 899-2200, ext. 11.