560 locations and counting
Since purchasing the Tire Pros franchise program from AM-PAC Tire Distributors Inc. five years ago, American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD) hasn’t focused on growth for growth’s sake. It has focused on “sustained” growth.
There were close to 180 Tire Pros franchise locations on Dec. 31, 2008. At the 2014 Tire Pros National Dealer Business Conference in Las Vegas, ATD executives placed the up-to-date number at 560 locations (owned by 408 dealers).
“We have not outstripped our resources, our ability to support the growth,” said Dan Brown, president of the Tire Pros franchise program. “We have been very cognizant of that.”
More than 600 dealers and guests attended the two-day event, which began on Feb. 4. The total attendance, including vendors, was 850 people.
Upgrades in 2014
Brown said Tire Pros is a “retail- focused” franchise program that supports its dealers with more than just product. In 2013, the program added a number of affiliated marketing and social media vendors.
For 2014, it’s all about branding, with ProVision and the Tire Pros Preferred Customer Credit Card.
“ProVision is an in-store digital menu board,” said Brown. “It provides dealers the opportunity to develop custom and Tire Pros-branded messages for customers who are in their showroom waiting areas. Dealers can have product information, tire and service pricing, promotional elements, pictures and videos uploaded that highlight what is going on at their dealership and with Tire Pros.”
The digital messages can be managed from the Tire Pros central office in Huntersville, N.C. “This allows us to coordinate the same message across all participating dealers in support of a national advertising campaign or group marketing initiative that involves multiple dealers in the same market area,” said Brown.
ATD also is expanding the Tire Pros proprietary credit card, which can be used not only for tires and service, but also at any Exxon-Mobil station for gasoline. “Consumers need a credit source for tires and vehicle repairs that will not limit their spending power on a traditional Visa or MasterCard,” said Brown. “The Tire Pros card can be opened in minutes at any location or online.”
The card will be backed by a number of promotions designed to give consumers additional value when they use the card for purchases at any Tire Pros dealership.
“The benefits to the Tire Pros dealer are significant and include a higher willingness by the customer to purchase recommended service repairs, customer retention and the building of a data base of dedicated customers for future marketing and advertising,” he added.
ATD also is attempting to give the Tire Pros brand more consistency by offering ProView to its franchisees. ProView is a co-branding program aimed at giving Tire Pros dealerships a makeover. According to Morpace Inc., a research and consulting firm, 96% of consumers said a store’s external appearance is important in their decision on where to shop.
A franchisee’s viewpoint
“We joined Tire Pros to get access to product, the marketing and the nationwide warranty,” said Mike Little, co-owner, with his brother, David, of Little Tire Co. Inc., a three-store operation in Fredericksburg, Va. The dealership celebrated its 55th anniversary on March 1, 2014.
ATD delivers to Little twice a day and on Saturdays. He also has access to five warehouses through ATD and its participation in the Michelin Alliance Associate Dealer program.
“You have to have access to daily delivery,” said Little, who stocks 900 consumer tires at each store. “About 30% of what I’m selling is not in my racks, and with the size proliferation, that’s only going to get worse.
“If you only sell one SKU a year, you certainly aren’t going to stock it. If I sell something twice a year, I try to stock it.” ■