Big O Tires LLC is counting on a single word to help franchisees increase sales and improve the consumer experience inside its 449 stores.
The word: “Yes!”
“Tremendous opportunities can open up with that one little word,” says John Kairys, vice president and general manager of Big O Tires. “When we say yes to customers, they say yes to us.” Kairys says saying yes is more than a marketing line or advertising slogan. It requires owners and managers to consider everything from reviewing if a store is properly staffed and open the best hours for service, to studying whether a store creates an inviting environment.
In 2018 Big O Tires, a division of TBC Corp., is rolling out new tools to help its franchisees say yes to consumers. There’s a new tool from Marchex Inc. that allows stores to monitor and review customer phone calls. A new website will allow consumers to schedule service appointments. And primary and secondary credit options help consumers with all financial backgrounds pay for the tires and services their vehicles need.
The company expects those tools to help it record $800 million in total sales in 2018, and hopefully extend its record of consecutive year sales increases. Kim McBee, vice president of marketing and advertising for Big O Tires, says 2017 was the fifth straight year of improved sales.
Big O Tires wants to extend its reach in new stores, as well as retention of existing franchises. In 2018 the goal is to open 25 new locations, and renew 90% of the 28 franchise agreements up for review. Kairys says the company has already tentatively secured one-third of the new-store goal.
New-store openings were a big part of the Big O Tires story in 2017. In November franchisee Mark Rhee bought 44 NTB Tire & Service Center locations in Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri from TBC and is rebranding them to Big O Tires stores. That deal helped Big O Tires have a “record-breaking” year, Kairys says. Fifty-seven new stores opened, giving the company 449 stores in 23 states. By the end of 2017 Big O Tires had crossed into four new states -- Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and Minnesota.
The existing stores did their part, too. Same-store sales were up 3.5% in 2017, and the company hopes to achieve that same result again this year.
Same stores fell a bit short in one category, though. The goal was to increase alignment sales by 20% in 2017, but the group grew the alignment category by 16%. (The goal is to hit that 20% increase in 2018.)
Brant Wilson, president of TBC’s franchise group, says the Big O Tires team helped save 10 stores last year, some of which were in danger of losing leases. In all, the franchise lost five stores overall. Wilson says it’s the fewest number of stores lost since 1996.