The nation’s largest network of independent tire dealers increased overall passenger light truck tire unit sales in 2016 by 7.8% and same-store sales by 5.5%. With 748 stores, Tire Pros President Ron Sinclair reminds the group’s dealers, “We have power!”

Ron Sinclair says as of Jan. 1, 2017, there were 748 Tire Pros stores, including 84 new stores enrolled in 2016 for a net growth of 44 stores.

Ron Sinclair says as of Jan. 1, 2017, there were 748 Tire Pros stores, including 84 new stores enrolled in 2016 for a net growth of 44 stores.

Sinclair was among the dozen-plus Tire Pros leaders to take the stage during the first day of the annual Tire Pros National Dealer Business Conference in New Orleans. With more than 1,000 dealers and vendors in attendance, there was a constant message of dealers needing to recognize their combined strength in the market, and working to offer a unified brand experience for consumers.

Perry Leonard is the new chair of the Tire Pros National Dealer Council, and owns nine stores in the Dallas area. He says dealers need to be engaged. “ATD, Tire Pros and the dealers – we’re all in it as one.”

Tire Pros, the retail franchise extension of American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD), is rolling out more opportunities for dealers to get involved in 2017. The group typically has named dealers to its National Dealer Council, and that group has considered initiatives for the entire network. The national council will remain in place, but Tire Pros is adding four more dealer councils that will focus on these specific topics: customer experience, marketing, training and technology.

Stuart Schuette, CEO and president of ATD, encouraged Tire Pros dealers to "think big, act small," and let ATD do the big things you can't do by yourself.

Stuart Schuette, CEO and president of ATD, encouraged Tire Pros dealers to "think big, act small," and let ATD do the big things you can't do by yourself.

Stuart Schuette, CEO and president of ATD, says the company sees an opportunity to use data to help Tire Pros dealers perform better in their markets. By the late fourth quarter of this year Tire Pros will roll out a net promoter score (NPS) system which will help dealers measure their performance. Dealers responded with applause when Schuette told them the expense of the NPS initiative would be covered by ATD and Tire Pros.

Ultimately, the NPS boils down to one question a dealer will ask his or her customers: How likely are you to recommend Tire Pros to a friend or colleague? Consumers will answer the question using a 0-10 scale, with zero representing “not at all likely” and a 10 being “extremely likely” to recommend.

Sinclair says the answer to that question will help dealers’ business four ways:

  • It will objectively measure the customer experience.
  • It will alert a dealer to issues that need attention.
  • It will highlight opportunities to retain customers.
  • It will build value in the Tire Pros brand.

Online sales

Richard and Connie Barnes from Barnes Tire & Service Centers Tire Pros show their Mardi Gras spirit at the Tire Pros dealer meeting in New Orleans.

Richard and Connie Barnes from Barnes Tire & Service Centers Tire Pros show their Mardi Gras spirit at the Tire Pros dealer meeting in New Orleans.

Tirepros.com websites will have the option of adding a “buy now” button, which will serve as a TireBuyer affiliate link. Dealers will get credit for the sale, and consumers will not be offered a “ship-to-home” option. The idea is to connect the consumer with the dealer.

Quick Chadwick, director of marketing for Tire Pros, says the “buy now” button allows the group to “dip its toe in the water” of online selling. “It’s a short-term solution to give us valuable insights.”

From there, Tire Pros will take a deeper dive into online selling in the future.

Marketing Milestones

Tire Pros dealers routinely cite the group’s marketing efforts as a key influence to join the national network. Chadwick oversees a staff of 36, and in 2016 Tire Pros dealers capitalized on everything from regional advertising efforts to branded credit card sales.

Chadwick says 390 tire dealers participated in 22 group advertising campaigns. “If you’re not in a group, get in one.”

Nationally, dealers counted $21 million in sales on the Tire Pros credit card.

And during a six-month campaign, dealers raised more than $125,000 in a new Allies for Independence effort which provides wheelchairs to injured veterans. Three dealers accounted for about half of the money raised. Tire World Auto Repair Tire Pros, with six locations in Colorado Springs, raised $45,745 for the cause.

Bud’s Tire Pros raised $10,002 and Rite-Way Auto Service collected $7,850.

Tire Pros will plan two eight-week campaigns to support the veterans effort in 2017.

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