By Kathy McCarron, Tire Business staff
WEST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. (June 27, 2014) — Adding a mobile tire service van to his store operations has been a longtime dream for Kenwood Tire & Auto Service Owner Spencer Carruthers.
He recently launched Kenwood Tire Mobile, a division of Kenwood Tire, as an added service to his customers, as well as a way to create additional business.
Mr. Carruthers told Tire Business that he believes he is operating the first mobile tire operation in his market, where he faces stiff competition from car dealerships and the Sullivan Tire & Auto Service chain.
“I really think it’s the future and that’s why I’ve done it. Car dealers are already kicking our a—, so to speak, at the moment because they have so much car count, they are selling tires like crazy. So I had to do something that they couldn’t do and this was the only thing I could really think of that I could really draw new customers in with and take away people from other channels, too,” he said.
“My goal was to do it as part of our tire store. We have a pretty well-established tire store already and this will be an added service for customers, rather than as an independent business. It’s a customer convenience. We’re going to chase after some fleet accounts and people who just don’t have time to come to a tire store or people with limited mobility.”
The van will provide installation of tires up to a 1-ton dual-wheel, balancing, tire pressure monitor service, puncture repairs, seasonal tire swaps and wheel lock removal. The mobile unit will service a 10-mile radius around the West Bridgewater store, he said. Most installations take about an hour, according to the dealership, which will offer the mobile service weekdays.
“It was something I always wanted to do,” he said. “…When I was a kid, I used to work for a company in England called Kwik Fit and they had a mobile tire store and ever since I’ve owned the (Kenwood) store, it’s what I wanted to do.
“If I went to my grave without doing this, I would regret it,” he joked.
“It’s one more convenience for the customer. It’s about the same expense as buying an alignment machine and I already have one of those.”
Mr. Carruthers invested about $45,000 to buy a used Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van and necessary equipment and tools. The equipment was converted to run off the van’s 12-volt battery.
He expects to charge about $49 for the mobile service plus the installation fees. Customers can buy tires through the store’s online Tire Buyer site and not even step foot into the dealership.
Kenwood Tire is pursuing fleet business as well by offering to service businesses’ vehicles on weekends while they are idled in their parking lots.
“The biggest challenge is being able to replicate what we do in the tire store, the quality of service, on somebody’s property,” Mr. Carruthers said. For this he is setting up a training platform for the mobile unit and plans to hire graduates from a local trade school.
Mr. Carruthers said he envisions someday expanding the mobile service operation to include other small tire dealerships.
“I would like to see it benefit tire shops, not the huge places. That’s my dream,” he said.
The dealership has set up a website for the mobile operation. It boasts “Tires On Your Time,” and notes: “Forget calling around for recommendations and prices and making an appointment and waiting at the tire or repair shop for hours.
“You don’t have to drop your car off at the car dealer for the day. We come to you with 50 years of tire shop service—at home, work and just about anywhere in between.”
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How stiff is the competition from car dealers selling tires in your area of operation?
|Not stiff at all, it's negligible||
21% (20 votes)
|Pretty intense but I'm holding my own and haven’t lost many sales||
26% (24 votes)
|It's moderately competitive but I’ll always beat their deals||
22% (21 votes)
|I've adjusted how I approach tire sales and it seems to be working to my benefit||
15% (14 votes)
|I'm ready to give up and look for another line of work||
16% (15 votes)
|Total votes: 94|