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New Routes, Rebates and Services: K&M Tire Strives to Give More to its Dealers

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New Routes, Rebates and Services: K&M Tire Strives to Give More to its Dealers

K&M Tire Inc.’s 2016 dealer conference in Overland Park, Kan., packed a punch appreciated by about 400 of its dealer customers.

The tire wholesaler showcased its services, offered face-to-face time with vendors in a trade show, and provided six hours of educational sessions featuring tips on how to make dealers’ businesses more profitable.

The Delphos, Ohio-based wholesaler focused on its efforts to help dealers. In 2015, improvements included the creation of a five-person customer service team to focus on delivery issues and other problems. In addition, the wholesaler’s marketing department is creating custom websites for dealers based on two pricing models.

There also have been improvements to the wholesaler’s Mr. Tire and Big 3 Tire program groups. Dealers can pick and choose from many services, which range from a branded credit card to a new online ordering portal available from wheel vendor WSI.

Expanding and improving those services is essential, said Bonnie Marlow, the assistant managing programs director. She pointed out the phrase “continuous improvement” is so important to K&M that it’s in each program group’s mission statement twice.

Members of the programs had access to 11 exclusive tire rebates in 2015, more than double the number available in 2014, the first year they were offered. Consumers submitted 5,500 rebates, and were paid $298,300 in 2015.

Marlow said the rebate program extended to passenger tires, as well as commercial truck and farm tires. And even bigger than the consumer tire rebates are the rebates and discounts available to dealers from nine automotive parts companies. In 2015, those rebates added up to $400,000. Kevin Knebel, national marketing manager, said the parts programs “are one of the huge advantages that we offer.”

Enhancing those program groups coincides with the wholesaler’s continued expansion. In 2015 K&M acquired the wholesale tire business of Kelle Oil Co. in Oklahoma, as well as Midwest Tire & Muffler Inc. in North and South Dakota. K&M added 19 delivery routes and now has 190 routes operating out of 20 distribution centers to reach dealers across 22 states, from Montana to Texas to Ohio.

Helping its customers grow is a key focus of the annual dealer meeting. John Miller, director of development for the Best One Tire & Service, challenged tire dealers to make small changes to improve their bottom lines, and work past the notion “I’ve always done it this way.”

“The difference between 3% net profit and 6% to 10% net profit is very small. You have to have the courage to go the inches.”

Working a sale on the phone is different than when the consumer is standing at the counter in the shop, and Miller said they need to be handled differently. When a customer is on the telephone, “if all you give is a price, that’s all you’re going to be graded on.” Consumers don’t know what that price includes if the dealer doesn’t tell them. When a customer walks into a dealer’s store, Miller suggested quoting tire prices with a road hazard guarantee included.

Greg Ring, director of training and development for K&M, focused on how to build a brand. He stressed it’s not a one-time job.

“Nobody cares about how good you used to be,” he said. “Your fourth wife doesn’t care about what a loving, caring, compassionate man you were to the first three. She just wants you to be good now.” Customers expect the same thing.

Dealers can build a brand plan in four steps, according to Ring. First, answer these two questions: Who do you want to be? Who are you? Then, take on two personas. Think like a customer. Think like a competitor.   ■

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