Computing power

Feb. 19, 2010

More tire dealership software products and services mean more options for tire dealers. What’s the most important function provided by tire shop software? We recently posed that question to several dealers.

Point-of-sale management is a critical function, says Don Frisby, owner of Frisby Tire Co., a five-store dealership in Ottawa, Ontario.

“If you had to give it priority, you’d have to say that’s the number one thing — then inventory, accounts receivable, accounts payable, etc. It’s all integrated into our software.”

His salespeople can check inventory at other Frisby Tire locations, as well as the company’s warehouse. Pricing information also is immediately available.

“We set up automatic re-order points for each SKU,” especially fast-moving items. “We tweak it and play with it and adjust it for seasonality. It’s a great tool.

“I think one of the tricks to software is finding out what’s going to work for you. There are reports (in your software) that might be of use or might not be. You really have to mine it and find out what works for your company.”

Roger Porter and his brothers have four Porter’s Tire Stores locations, with another on the way.

The 57-year-old passenger and light truck tire dealership is based in Morristown, Tenn.

With multiple stores, you need “the ability to track what goes on at each store,” says Porter. “Even from my home, I can log on and monitor exactly what’s going on.  It’s a system of checks and balances that begins with the point of sale.

“I’m just beginning to discover the control I have in terms of pricing, inventory management, tracking salesmen and what they’re doing, what our stores are doing by themselves, and what their profit margins are.”

[PAGEBREAK]Resources such as inventory control make computers a necessity, according to Charlie Toney, president of C. Adam Toney Discount Tires in Beckley, W.V. A dealer for 28 years, he remembers the days when inventory cards were used.

Toney says customers seem to want instant gratification when they come into the store, and expect the tires to be there.

“People today have almost as much knowledge about the tire as the salespeople because of the Internet.” Computers also link his four stores, which enables him to act quickly when problems arise.

“Our customers typically do not stock wheels,” says Dana Davis, vice president of information technology for Wheel Pros, a Lakewood, Colo.-based wholesaler with 27 distribution centers.

“We’re their stocking provider.

“When they call us, they’re looking for four things. The first thing they want to know is if (the tire) fits. Their next question is, ‘Do you have it?’ so we find out if we have it locally and at any location across the country.

“The third question they have is, ‘How much is it going to cost?’ We’re able to answer that question very quickly. We have national accounts, small tire dealerships and regional tire dealerships, and they all have different needs when it comes to pricing.

“The last question is, ‘When can we get it?’ Typically, that will be same-day or next-day if we have (the product) on-site. Because our system is integrated, we can see where the product is and we can quote right on the phone.”    ■

Where it all starts... Inventory management is critical

Inventory management is one of the most important functions of any tire dealership software package or product, says Dean Rascoe, director of marketing for ASA Tire Systems Inc.

“It all starts with inventory management. Nothing is more important than buying the right product at the right time. From there, it branches off to empowering your salespeople by having the correct information at the point of sale, knowing the profitability of a given item, knowing the customer’s buying habits, etc.

“It really does tie in together,” he explains. “You can have the prettiest screen in the world, but if the data on that screen is inaccurate, what do you really have?”