“We look at the tire industry over the next few years as being relatively flat in the replacement market,” said keynote speaker Stuart Schuette, CEO of American Tire Distributors Inc. “But we’re blessed to be in this industry…. People need tires. We’re in a space where the need is there, and we just have to figure out... where the consumer is going so we can all win.”

“We look at the tire industry over the next few years as being relatively flat in the replacement market,” said keynote speaker Stuart Schuette, CEO of American Tire Distributors Inc. “But we’re blessed to be in this industry…. People need tires. We’re in a space where the need is there, and we just have to figure out... where the consumer is going so we can all win.”

“Yelp is a land mine.” “I can’t find employees.” “Quality of life is our biggest concern.” When dealers gather to talk about issues important to them, the topics are always wide-ranging.

But for Chris Monroe, Alpio Barbara, Gary Baldree and Frankie Pugh, a successful business starts with creating and nurturing a reputable image. That includes doing the job right the first time.

MTD Editor Bob Ulrich moderates the NCTDA’s “How to Greatly Improve Your Business Model” panel discussion.

MTD Editor Bob Ulrich moderates the NCTDA’s “How to Greatly Improve Your Business Model” panel discussion.

At the 2017 North Carolina Tire Dealers Association Expo and Trade Show in Raleigh, N.C., in March, the four dealers shared a panel and discussed their views with the dealers in the audience.“As an independent tire dealer... we’ve had a lot of discussion about our image: building our brand and being professional and being perceived as the professionals that we are,” said Monroe, owner of Monroe Tire and Service in Shelby, N.C.

“To attract the next generation to work in this industry, I think we have to make it desirable and that’s in training, how we treat ourselves, how we treat our customers and, honestly, in the facilities that we use to represent the industry.”

Barbara, owner and president of Redwood General Tire Service Co. in Redwood City, Calif., and Modern Tire Dealer’s 2016 Tire Dealer of the Year, agreed with Monroe 100%. He noted that all his employees are required to we  ar uniforms.

Mike and Dana Kelly of North Elkin Tire & Automotive in Elkin, N.C., check out a Kenda tire at the Parrish Tire Co. booth during the NCTDA Trade Show.

Mike and Dana Kelly of North Elkin Tire & Automotive in Elkin, N.C., check out a Kenda tire at the Parrish Tire Co. booth during the NCTDA Trade Show.

“In my store, if you wear a hat backwards or you have tattoos, either your head’s going to turn around or your hat is going to turn around, and you’re going to cover your tattoos,” he said. “It’s an image thing for us, and our customers love it. You’ve got to make the customers comfortable to come into your store.”To make sure his employees provide “the best service and best quality work,” Baldree, president of Baldree’s Tire Pros in Havelock, N.C., has put into place procedures to provide checks and balances without running cars through the shop too quickly.

“I worry about making sure the work is done right,” he said. “The biggest fear of a tire dealer is the wheel will come off.”

Tim Evans, owner of Evans Tire & Automotive Center Inc. in Smithfield, N.C., won the Coats 70X EH3 tire changer.

Tim Evans, owner of Evans Tire & Automotive Center Inc. in Smithfield, N.C., won the Coats 70X EH3 tire changer.

Pugh, general manager of distribution for Pugh’s Tire & Service Centers, a six-store chain based in Greenville, N.C., said dealers have to work harder to overcome stereotypes, some deserved, some undeserved. “I think communication from the front is the most important thing to the customer. Letting them know how and what you are going to do to the vehicle is very important.”   ■ 

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