The Biggest Trend in Retailing: Mobile Tire Service
I find it hard to believe that as the network of independent tire dealers started to develop in the early 1900s, not one of them offered mobile tire service. So pinpointing its creation is – hey, I’m not afraid to say it -- impossible.
Over the years, Modern Tire Dealer has chronicled the unique way some opportunistic independent dealers have offered this service, so it is more than a fad. Zohr Mobile Tire Service (“We are car nerds and innovators”) in Kansas City, Mo.; MTX Mobile Tire Shop (“Everyone sells tires, but we are changing the way you buy tires”) in South Shore, Mass.; Momentum Tire and Wheel (“Dedicated to making your life easier”) in upper Northeast New Jersey; and GoTire Inc. (“Wherever you are”) at 68 locations in Canada, and available franchise opportunities in both Canada and the U.S., are four examples of established independents offering mobile service.
At the same time, mobile tire service has been less than commonplace. The cost (well over $100,000 just to get started) and logistics make it an unlikely profit center unless you are really patient. And committed.
That may be about to change, however, with four progressive companies putting time and money into mobile tire services.
1. The Tire Rack Inc. purchased ASAP Mobile Tire Service (“We come to you”), a mobile tire service in Philadelphia, Pa., Delaware, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Atlanta, Ga.; and Colorado.
2. Icahn Automotive Group LLC recently created the Pep Boys Mobile Crew, “a state-of-the-art” traveling trailer and service bay designed to provide on-location preventive maintenance and repair services, including tire installation and repair; oil changes; engine diagnostics; brake, shock and strut replacement; heating, air conditioning and cooling maintenance; and belt and hose replacement. The mobile service bay also checks and replaces batteries, wiper blades, headlamps, and fluids.
3. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has been slowly expanding its pilot mobile tire service program since 2016, when it opened in Los Angeles. “As highlighted at our Customer Conference in January and consistent with previous messages, the tire industry is at an inflection point and Goodyear is focused on making the tire buying and installation process easier no matter how consumers wish to interact with our brands,” said Mike Dauberman, chief digital officer for the U.S. and Canada.
“We have received positive feedback from consumers about the convenience of using mobile installation reinforcing a clear consumer need. We are currently testing mobile installation in a disciplined way while looking at a variety of business models that will help Goodyear grow with the changing consumer, including options that allow our dealer network to participate.”
4. Go Mobile Tires Inc. (formerly Mobile Tire Experts) in Florida and California is another newcomer. Owners Joe Flores, Sarkis Ohanian and Derek Maidoo saw a trend of customers – including businesses -- bringing in tires purchased online and wanting to have them installed.
“As of today we have mobile vehicles scheduled for South Florida, Jacksonville, and three units in Southern California,” says Flores. “With the increase in online shopping for tires, more of the online sellers are looking for mobile installation rather than brick and mortar.”
Go Mobile Tires uses Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans that Flores has built and “upfitted” in Oregon. They are equipped with Hunter Equipment, including RoadForce Elite wheel balancers, and Nitroheat nitrogen tire fill equipment.
“What we offer our customers is a convenient new way to shop for tires. You can buy tires from us on our website or just schedule an installation of your tires that were purchased elsewhere. We will install your tires while you’re at work, home or on the golf course. Many customers don’t want to wait in a tire shop for hours to have their tires installed and the problem is even greater when they take in tires you purchased from Amazon.
“More and more tire shops are seeing the benefits of adding a mobile service truck to expand their businesses,” says Flores.
Each van covers a 15- to 20-mile service radius with one technician/driver. They are designed to carry a mix of up to 20 tires or wheels at one time, and get additional inventory from local wholesalers and local retailers when needed. The largest consumer tire size they can handle is 42 inches.
Flores says he advertises his mobile tire service on Google and Facebook, “but a good portion of our business comes from our relationships with other retailers.” He estimates the van will turn a profit if it can install five sets of tires per day. “The model was created to simply be an installation center for the online tire retailers. We really didn’t plan on selling a lot of tires and wheels, too. But we discovered and have developed potential profit centers with tire and wheel sales to fleet customers.”
Go Mobile Tire charges a flat $50 service fee to drive out and service the customer.
According to the Auto Care Association, only 40% of motorists perform their vehicles’ manufacturer-recommended scheduled maintenance. Of the 60% who do not, more than 20% cited lack of a convenient time as the main reason why.
Q&A with Goodyear: Manufacturer expands mobile tire service
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. started its latest mobile tire service pilot program in Los Angeles in 2016.
MTD: What geographic areas are you offering the pilot program?
Goodyear: We have mobile operations in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Charlotte, and Cleveland that are tied to Goodyear.com. There are additional mobile install vans in Baltimore and Philadelphia as part of the Roll pilot.
MTD: How many vans do you have in each area?
Goodyear: We have one or two mobile install vans per market.
MTD: What brands do you sell?
Goodyear: Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly (the brands sold on Goodyear.com, GoodyearAutoService.com or JustTires.com).
MTD: Do the vans work closely with Goodyear company-owned stores, or stores that sell Goodyear?
Goodyear: With the exception of the Roll pilot, the mobile install vans are not tied to brick-and-mortar stores.
MTD: Can the vans handle UHP and large diameter P-metric and light truck tires?
Goodyear: The mobile install vans can handle most standard passenger tires. Larger diameter rims are referred to the dealer installation network.
MTD: Do you offer any auto services other than mounting and balancing?
Goodyear: Not at this time.
MTD: Have you ever tried mobile tire service before?
Goodyear: Yes. Goodyear piloted “Tire Valet” in Chicago in the early 2000s.
Goodyear is not the only tire manufacturer to offer mobile tire service. Bridgestone Mobile Tire services the Greater Nashville area.