The Future is Now For Bay Area Tire and Service
Once owner Craig Arch introduced the “Showroom of the Future” at his Bay Area Tire & Service Center in Severna Park, Md., it became the showroom of the present.
Whether or not it becomes a trend, however, even at the other five Bay Area Tire locations in Maryland, is unknown. Arch says the return on investment will determine that.
He still has a soft spot for the store, the first he purchased after leaving Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. 30 years ago. The former Sanders Tire & Auto outlet remains the chain’s flagship store — and only sells Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly brand tires.
Arch, Bay Area Tire General Manager Gerry White, store Manager Tim Nester and Arch’s daughter, Michelle Hydes, hosted an unveiling party for the showroom on Nov. 18. Guests included Goodyear Chairman and CEO Rich Kramer and Chesapeake Automotive Business Association Executive Director Jim Donohue. Friends and competitors alike also were on hand, including Admiral Tire and Auto Centers President Bob Wilson and Brooks-Huff Tire & Auto Centers President Jay Huff.
“For some time now, I have had the dream to take Bay Area and Goodyear into the future,” said Arch to the attendees. “As they say, the best way to predict the future is to create it.”
He cited a Harvard Business Review article from years ago for coming up with the three rules of success he still follows.
Rule No. 1: Better before cheaper. “In other words, compete on differentiators rather than price.”
Rule No. 2: Revenue before cost. “That is, prioritize increasing revenue over reducing cost.”
Rule No. 3: There is no Rule No 3. Arch said you have to do whatever it takes to follow Rules 1 and 2.
“And that is exactly what we believe in creating the vision for our showroom of the future.”
Arch designed the showroom himself, based on a number of eclectic influences. That includes the showroom furniture, which was custom built.
“My desire to create the showroom of the future was reinforced when I became an Audi dealer in the Cayman Islands,” said Arch. (That’s where he does business as Arch Automotive International.) “I reviewed their concept at Audi in Berlin in Germany during an Audi meeting a few years ago. I then knew that a similar concept was what was needed to take us into the future.
“I remodeled our Goodyear showroom and service center in the Cayman Islands, and after hearing the comments of our customers and seeing the results of our sales and absolute customer delight, I knew it was the wave of the future.”
A visit to the mall in Las Vegas during the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show a few years ago — he was tagging along while White shopped — also gave him plenty of ideas. A trip to Victoria’s Secret was particularly fruitful.
“As I viewed how all the stylish brands in Las Vegas go to market, with state-of-the-art showrooms, TV walls instead of displays and a streamlined, comfortable customer lounge, it was then I knew what I had to do. This is what put into motion our entire showroom upgrade.
“I know we are in the tire service business, but we have a brand in Goodyear and a business that is on the same level as the best and most prestigious brands in the world. Apple, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Cartier have all done it. We must ‘wow’ our customers.”
Out in the open
A number of open-area counters replace the traditional sales counter in the new showroom. Salespeople and customers can look at the computer terminals together, making the interaction more communal. The overall look is very modern and transparent, with only glass doors and walls separating the offices and the showroom. Customers also can watch their vehicles being worked on in one of the eight service bays through the glass window.
There are six televisions displayed on the walls; four of them are made up of multiple screens. There is also a single-screen television in the customer consultation area.
The showroom includes a “Wi-Fi bar” for people wanting to work while they wait. On the same wall, Goodyear tires are on display. On the other side of the room is the “Goodyear Café,” complete with a cappuccino machine and a refrigerator filled with bottled water.
Arch also worked with design students from nearby Anne Arundel Community College.
“He was trying to come up with a new kind of vision of what a tire showroom should be, not just a nicer version of what already existed,” said Michael Ryan, chairman of the architecture and interior design department.
According to Ryan, White came to the final presentation and reviewed the students’ project and incorporated some of the ideas. The Internet bar, open glass offices, open seating “were some of the things the students thought a place like this should have.”
Early results have been encouraging. Even while the store was being renovated, business didn’t slack off, said Nester, who has been with Arch since day one. ■