Tire Pros Focuses on Mobile Installation, Digital Tools and More

March 6, 2023

New tools and programs were hot topics of discussion at American Tire Distributors Inc.’s (ATD) recent Tire Pros meeting in San Diego, Calif.

ATD highlighted many new tools and programs that Tire Pros dealers can take advantage of, such as mobile tire installation, self-service kiosks, point-of-sales system and more.

Greg Bell, president of Tire Pros, spoke with MTD about what the group wants to do in 2023 year and the programs it is offering.

Expansion on all fronts

In a 2021 MTD article, Bell said there were 440 owner-operators with a total of 609 locations in the Tire Pros network.

Now, Bell says Tire Pros is sitting at 445 owner-operators and 623 locations – with three of those locations having already come on-line in 2023.

“We’ve had year-over-year positive growth and a lot of our current operators expanded their locations, which is where a lot of those new location numbers come from,” he says.

Bell believes this expansion will continue, but the group isn’t “adding locations just to add them.

“It’s strategic growth. We are looking for owners we have commonality with and share goals with. I don’t want to be presumptuous about what anybody’s needs are, so our first step is looking at the location’s goals and objectives and seeing how we can help.”

California is where Tire Pros has the most locations, followed by Texas.

Bell says the group will expand in the markets it sees fit, whether in these states or different ones.

Mobile tire installation

Bell says Tire Pros set out to pilot its new mobile tire installation program in 2022. James Baxter, owner Neighborhood Tire Pros, a two-location dealership based in Atlanta, Ga., and Chris Mortensen, owner of two-location Samaritan Tire Pros, which is headquartered in Minnetonka, Minn., were one of the first two Tire Pros members to take on the mobile tire installation idea.

But at the time, the program just consisted of sourcing and training.

“We had a great idea for it, but what we were really missing was that back-end software and technology to connect in the consumer,” says Bell.

“That’s where our partnership with Avayler comes into play. They helped us get that comprehensive end-to-end solution.”

Avalyer software comes from a  United Kingdom-based company, Halfords, which ATD brought to the North American market about two years ago.

Since Baxter and Mortensen began running their vans, three more Tire Pros dealers have. (Read MTD’s interview with Mark Reece, one of the new owners of the van here.)

Mark Reece, owner of the two-location Benedetti Tire Service & Express Lube Tire Pros, which is headquartered in Sebastopol, Calif., brought his van to the conference in San Diego, allowing other dealers to get a first-hand look at it.

Since then, 40 Tire Pros dealers have expressed interest in getting a van for their locations, too, according to Bell.

“My goal for this conference was to generate excitement and interest – and then midway through the year we would maybe be at 20 or 25 vans. So this (has) far exceeded my expectations.”

Mobile tire installation will allow dealers to reach another market of customers, according to Bell, and is “like an extension of the dealers’ brick-and-mortar locations.

“One of the operators remarked to me that a large majority of his customer-base are millennial Tesla owners. They want ease, they want convenience and they don’t want to talk to people,” laughs Bell. “So, this is perfect for them. We can come to the customer on the customer’s time.”

Digitalization of the market

Another program that Tire Pros highlighted at the conference was its Showroom of the Future concept. This included a digital consumer portal, self-service kiosks, a digital tire wall, key drop-off and more.

Tire Pros has been working on a point-of-sales system to unify its locations for a few years.

“Back in 2019 and into 2020, our technology and National Dealer Council came to a decision that we wanted to start our own Tire Pros point-of-sale system,” explains Bell.

“So through a partnership with Tire Guru Software, we’ve created a comprehensive, business management ecosystem that really affords the operator flexibility in terms of how they communicate with customers.”

Bell says that texting is one of those options, but Tire Pros has also created a consumer portal.

It can keep customers up to date on what’s happening to their vehicles when they are in a store and also tracks service history and gives reminders between appointments.

“Many consumers are looking for ease and convenience these days and not just through texting or just through mobile services, but their experiences when they go to the store, as well, so we’ve invented that technology for them,” says Bell.

The Tire Pros point-of-sale system is up and running. More than 40% of the group’s members are using it already.

Tire Pros also has enhanced its in-store digital tire wall feature, which includes a comprehensive list of all tires a location sells with QR codes and videos of the product.

According to Bell, this allows customers to take their time and thoroughly check out the product they are interested in. However, Tire Pros understands that some customers still like to see physical products before buying, so the group continues to offer a physical tire wall includes the same QR codes as the digital tire wall.

Tire Pros also now provides its dealers with a text-to-pay feature.

“We want to continue, in conjunction with our councils and voice of our customers, to provide new and flexible ways to engage with their customers,” says Bell.

Plans for growth

Bell says many of the features and products rolled out at this year's conference were a direct response to the feedback and conversations Tire Pros has had with its members.

“One of the things we want to double-down on in the years ahead is, ‘How do we provide on-boarding, training, leadership and developmental resources for our franchises?’” he says.

“Our operators are in business for themselves but not necessarily by themselves. That, I think, is one of the biggest value propositions of Tire Pros. You’re united under a national umbrella of the Tire Pros brands, but it’s your business.”

About the Author

Madison Gehring | Associate Editor

Madison Gehring is Modern Tire Dealer's associate editor. A graduate of Ohio State University, Gehring holds a bachelors degree in journalism. During her time at Ohio State, she wrote for the university's student-run newspaper, The Lantern, and interned at CityScene Media Group in Columbus, Ohio.