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Great Scotland! Budget Tyre proves it's a small world

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Great Scotland! Budget Tyre proves it's a small world

Car owners in Scotland steer from the right side of the vehicle, but drive on the left side of the road. Like the rest of the United Kingdom, they pay in pounds, not euros or dollars. They even spell tire with a "y."

But when they need tyres, they still want the best price and service they can get. Like you, Budget Tyre Plus Auto Service caters to that mentality. The Scottish tyre chain has consolidated lately, but remains one of the largest independent tyre chains in the country with 36 "convenient locations servicing all the main towns and cities," according to its brochure.

The Budget Tyre outlet in St. Andrews sells Continental, Firestone, Uniroyal, Debica, Dunlop and Star Performer (made by Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s Avon subsidiary). The store keeps 800 tyres in stock, according to Assistant Manager Thomas Patrick (in photo); if he needs a tyre, Tayside Tyres, a local wholesaler, can get it to him quickly.

"Sometimes (customers) will ask for a brand name," says Patrick. "Other times they'll ask what we have and we'll suggest what they should have." He estimates about 50% of the customers don't ask for brands.

One of the most popular tyre sizes in Scotland is 155/80R13. Budget sells a Debica Monza in that size for 33.50 pounds (around $55); a Uniroyal costs 35 pounds, five pence (about $58). Those prices include casing disposal, wheel balancing, new valve stems and mounting. On the other end of the spectrum, a Continental Eco-Contact, size 205/55R16, costs 115 pounds ($191).

Like in the states, tyre dealers in Scotland often get little respect. Patrick says a recent television special, "Garages from Hell," "gave a lot of garages a bad name."

Budget Tyre in St. Andrews is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Its employees do everything they can to get the vehicle in and out as rapidly as possible. In addition to selling and servicing tyres, they perform undercar service and battery replacement. If a Jaguar pulls up in the morning, they can have it serviced by the afternoon. And when car owners have to drop off their vehicles, there are many options open to them, including a shopping trip to the nearby Safeway grocery store.

"Sometimes, (when the) jobs take a wee bit longer... we will run them home," says Ally King, one of Budget Tyre's two "fitters."

In St. Andrews, Budget Tyre has little competition. The closest tyre dealer, MotorWay, is a few blocks away.

There are no Sears or Wal-Mart auto centers. Budget Tyre, along with Kwik-Fit Centres (formerly owned by Ford Motor Co.) and McConechy's Tyre Service, are the largest independent tyre chains in Scotland.

Still, the customer remains king, or queen, as the case may be, in Scotland. "The customer comes first, you know," says Patrick. "You (always) ask yourself, 'How can I help them?'"

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