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Big O Tires Dealers Hit $1 Billion in Sales

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Big O Tires dealers gathered for their 2022 convention, their first gathering since the spring of 2019. They celebrated two record-breaking years, and collectively had sales of more than $1 billion in both 2020 and 2021.

| All Photo Credits: MTD

Big O Tires franchisees set back-to back sales and profitability records in 2020 and 2021, and for the first time turned the retailer into a billion-dollar business. New leaders at the helm say it’s just the beginning, and that Big O Tires is “poised for monumental growth.”

Laurent Bourrut, the CEO of TBC Corp. since July 2021, spoke to Big O Tires franchisees during the group's annual convention. Bourrut said TBC is “especially committed to growing Big O. Big O is a fantastic brand and this is really, really a major growth engine for our company, for TBC.”

He referred to the shared will and determination of TBC and the Big O Tires brand, and said, “We are fully convinced that Big O is a fantastic platform poised for monumental growth in the coming years.”

The conference was the group’s first gathering of its 200-plus franchisees since April 2019. Bourrut was joined by other TBC executives, including Brian Maciak, who is taking over as the head of Big O Tires after Jim Bull retires on July 1.

Big O Laurent and Jim Bull.jpgLaurent Bourrut, right, CEO of TBC Corp., thanks and congratulates Jim Bull, left, on his July 1 retirement as the leader of Big O Tires. 
  

Bull noted that in 2021 same-store sales increased 16%. The group’s wholesale and retail tire units increased, and their collective auto service sales grew by more than 20%.

Twelve new Big O Tires stores opened last year, and every store that was up for franchise renewal remained in the Big O Tires network.

Despite the massive upheaval in business caused by the pandemic and all the other disruptions that followed, Bull said, “We came out ahead.”

He added, “Big O Tires has very ambitious long term goals. We want to become a national chain, without losing the essence of who we are.”

One of the lessons leaders of Big O Tires learned is that their franchisees have a collective wisdom that can help the whole group move forward. Maciak told MTD during the early stages of the pandemic as the corporate office was sharing resources and information about everything from government regulations to Paycheck Protection Program applications, store owners were asking for advice on a critical question: How do we keep our people safe and healthy?

“I wouldn’t want to go through that again (but) we realized pretty quickly, if we don’t have the answers at corporate, some of our franchisees have very good ideas,” Maciak said. “We revamped our governance structure. We now have committees of corporate (representatives) and franchisees, not just for Covid, but broad topics: IT, training, operations.”

The idea of those committees wasn’t completely new, but Maciak said, “We blew it up even more. We can get to a better answer quicker when we do it with our franchisees. They love having a voice, (and) playing a role in the decision making.”

The conference highlighted the work of some of those committees, and how they’re focusing on four strategic areas for the Big O Tires franchise:

  • Competitive advantages: using technology and innovation
  • Staffing: the ability to train becomes more vital as the trained are hard to find
  • Store growth: the importance of growing given the activity of private equity in market consolidation
  • Fleets: embracing fleet work as critical part of business

As just one example, Big O Tires franchisee Joe Happel said the operations and training committee is building a framework to find mentor dealers to guide new franchisees. The committee is also pushing to expand corporate’s training team and resources, while also finding ways to revamp Big O Tires Academy to make it more usable and the information more digestible.

A big focus of the conference is celebrating the people within the organization, as well as the success of group’s stores. Standing O Awards were presented to Clark Brown, Rick Zirges, and Mike Ledbetter.

Three Big O Tires dealers were welcomed into the Hall of Fame: the late Bill Skidmore, who died in 2013; Mitch Beranek and Greg Kimberlin.

At the store level, Big O Tires recognizes a location the first time it crosses the threshold of $2 million in sales. The next recognition comes at the $3 million, and $4 million level, and so on. The company also highlights the top 10 stores nationally.

In 2021, the top 10 stores recorded more than $70 million in sales. Each of the stores in the top 10 had more than $5 million in sales.

And for the first time, a Big O Tires store broke the $10 million sales barrier. That store, a longtime leader in the Big O Tires system, is owned by Kent Coleman and located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Total 2021 sales were nearly $10.5 million — an increase of $1.5 million from 2020.

Big O Kent Coleman web.jpgKent Coleman is a Big O Tires franchisee and owner of the system's top store in the country. The Salt Lake City store had sales of nearly $10.5 million in 2021, and is the first Big O Tires store to cross the $10 million threshold.

 

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