One-Man Tire Installation Service Builds Customer Base with Fast, ‘On-the-Spot’ Service
Jeremy James says he “knew nothing” about servicing tires until several years ago. “I had never taken a tire off a rim in my life,” says the 38-year-old, Leesport, Pa. resident.
Having spent most of his career running manufacturing plants, James also had zero experience selling tires.
As the sole proprietor of a thriving mobile tire installation service, Tires To Your Spot, he has since become an expert at both.
He also serves as the company’s accountant, tire procurer, installation scheduler, marketing director and manager of new business development.
Working out of a fully equipped truck, James installs consumer tires on up to five vehicles a day, mainly at customers’ homes or offices. He also replaces tires on tow-behind trailers.
“I offer everything from mounting and balancing to old tire disposal,” he says.
James reinvests most of his revenue. This strategy has paid off in steady growth, he reports.
In fact, he is so confident in his company’s continued success that he plans to roll out a Tires To Your Spot franchise program within the next year, with the goal of having 50 franchises in place by 2025. “Mobile installation is the future of the tire business,” says James. “It’s convenient and cost-effective for the customer, as well as the person who’s providing the service.”
The idea for Tires To Your Spot was born out of an under-whelming tire buying experience that James suffered through several years earlier.
A single father, James — accompanied by his then- three-and-six-year-old sons — drove his vehicle to a local tire store on a Saturday afternoon for what he thought would be a quick, simple replacement of four tires.
The facility took three hours to complete the job.
“I had a lot of time to think while I was waiting,” he says. “I said to myself, ‘I can’t be the only person in this situation. Why doesn’t someone bring tires to customers, instead? There could be a huge market for that kind of service.’”
It took a while for James, who had always wanted to run his own business, to flesh out his newly conceived enterprise.
After accumulating enough capital, he bought a second-hand box truck. As budget allowed, he filled it with new tire mounting and balancing machines. He also added a generator, air compressor, jacks, tools and other pieces of equipment.
Then he arranged everything inside the truck to ensure an efficient workflow, which required some experimentation.
“My initial investment was more than $100,000” — all self-funded, says James.
While a significant outlay for him, it was much less than what opening a traditional, brick-and-mortar tire dealership would cost.
James soon realized that “going mobile” presented other advantages, with the need for minimal tire inventory topping the list.
“I only inventory tires for the next 24 hours of jobs,” with each tire already assigned to a customer, he says.
“Another advantage is the customer you are helping is your only customer at that moment, so when you arrive, they know their vehicle is getting worked on — not someone else’s vehicle. At a brick-and-mortar store, the customer has to wait for his turn in the queue.”
James’ next order of business was letting customers know that Tires To Your Spot existed. He handed out promotional literature and created a Facebook page.
He says social media is a particularly effective marketing tool. “I do run some discounts on Facebook periodically.”
However, not every marketing method works equally well. “Manufacturer rebates are something that can help drive business, but if the customer isn’t ready for new tires during rebate time, it can be a hard sell.
“Convenience is the biggest thing I promote,” he says. “Convenience is king. We ensure that the customer has zero down-time (due to) either the loss of a vehicle for a day or lost hours sitting in a store.
“The biggest challenge has been getting someone to give me a try. After that, it’s a slam dunk. People rave about the experience we provide and will even post about it on social media.”
‘The future of the tire business’
According to James, there’s more to mobile tire installation than scheduling an appointment, traveling to a customer’s location and replacing a set of tires.
“A typical job consists of a customer contacting me through my website or my Facebook page or by calling my cell number,” he says. “They provide details about their car and tires, including tire size.”
Most of his customers don’t have a brand or product preference. “I’ll provide them with three options and let them choose. After a tire is selected, we discuss a time and location for installation. After that is all set up, I order tires, which are delivered to my location with 24 hours.”
James sources tires from a handful of local distributors, some of whom offer Saturday delivery. Most of the tires that he mounts range from 15 inches to 22 inches in diameter.
“I don’t do any low-profile tires,” he says. “I try to hit the biggest segment of the consumer tire market.”
Standard installations take an hour to complete and are usually performed at customers’ homes or at their places of employment — as long as a safe, flat surface is available.
“If the surface is too steep, then it becomes a safety issue,” he says. “If that’s the case, I just ask the customer to move their car to another location.”
When it comes to customers, James purposely casts a wide net.
“I service everything from 25-year-old Oldsmobiles to brand new vehicles coming out with their first set of tires. I’ve done performance light truck tires and sports car tires, all the way down to economy brands. I don’t target customers based on their vehicle type or bank account.
“The biggest challenge associated with each job is getting a schedule that fits their need, while not creating a conflict between that and my existing schedule.”
And he uses an all-inclusive pricing model. (James accepts payment via cash, credit card, check or PayPal.)
“I can’t stand add-ons that are not readily available in the initial quote.”
James calls mobile installation “the future of the tire business. Customers in my area are always cautious about trying new things. People are set in their ways. But once they find out (about mobile tire installation), they love it.” ■