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3 Tips for Success from MTD's 2015 Tire Dealer of the Year

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3 Tips for Success from MTD's 2015 Tire Dealer of the Year

As Modern Tire Dealer’s 2015 Tire Dealer of the Year, Ricky Benton of Black’s Tire Service Inc. landed in the hot seat at the 2015 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show. A room full of independent tire dealers wanted to know his secrets to success.

Benton, his son Ryan Benton and Keith Noble, the regional retail manager for Black’s Tire, were among the panelists in a question-and-answer session hosted by the Tire Industry Association. And tire dealers lobbed lots of questions, covering everything from training to employee benefits. Here are three of the questions and answers that may help you run your business more effectively.

How do you get your people to desire to be the best they can?

Ryan Benton, one of Ricky Benton’s three sons, says it starts at orientation, where they lay down the expectations. “How do you make a guy bolting up tires feel that way? You remind them that the people’s lives are in their hands. There’s a lot of money in their hands. You make them feel more important than just a grease monkey.”

How long do you spend training your sales team before they’re working the counter?

“Most of our sales people have worked in the shop and understand the fundamentals,” says Ricky Benton. “We have about 10 people we send them to for a week, sometimes two weeks.” It doesn’t always work, he admits, and that trainer will call and say that. So they find a different assignment for the trainee. “You try to put someone with a winner and a leader. It’s a continuous process. You don’t just put them on the counter and go.” Some trainees have “been moving from store to store for the last 90 days. It’s really dependent upon the individual.”

Ryan Benton adds that the company encourages its store managers and leaders to be on the lookout for employees they can develop. “We place a high value on developing talent. In the last couple of weeks we’ve had a guy go from being a No. 2 guy in a store to a No. 1 guy in a store. Now that (other) guy hated to lose him, but he was proud that he was part of his legacy.”

How do you advertise and market your business?

Ricky Benton likes the old school world of word of mouth.

“I think that’s the number one key to success in rural areas.”

But he also realizes that his tire business needs a web and digital presence, and says he’s fortunate to have a family and team who provide those links. Ryan Benton says he doesn’t really enjoy social media, but one of his brothers does. “You may not be interested in it, but somebody in your store or organization is, and they’d probably be good at it.” Black’s Tire also uses radio and television advertisements, direct mail, and billboards. “We try a lot of different things.”

Keith Noble says, “We try to get very involved in festivals and events and chambers.” But he acknowledges the foundation of the company “was built on word of mouth.”

Read our September profile story about Benton as the 2015 Tire Dealer of the Year here.

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