I ndependent tire dealers have been handed a powerful new weapon in their struggle to secure equitable treatment from tire manufacturers and other suppliers. At its convention in Dallas, Sept. 9, the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association removed some of the secrecy surrounding the findings of its annual dealer survey, which measures how suppliers are living up to the precepts of ``the Tire Dealers' Bill of Rights,'' adopted by the association two years ago.
In short, the NTDRA made public the attributes in which each company scored highest and lowest in various areas of performance affecting independent tire dealers. It also showed the areas of greatest increase and decrease from the 1993 study. In doing so, the association has provided dealers with more information by which to judge a potential new supplier.
Now, independents can determine how survey participants view suppliers in such important areas as consideration for the dealer's need to make a profit by not selling directly to end users or if its other marketing practices allow the dealers a fair chance to compete.
What remains to be seen is how effectively dealers will use this information and whether its disclosure ultimately will improve the relationship between manufacturers and dealers.
The NTDRA deserves credit for risking the displeasure of manufacturers in an effort to put teeth into its Bill of Rights for dealers.
Some dealers who spoke at the ``Town Meeting'' want the NTDRA to go further by making public all of the study's findings as well as what was said at the association's annual tire company visits.
The association's leadership, however, wants some study findings relating to individual tire makers kept confidential to preserve the dialogue they credit with already having improved dealer-supplier relations. They may be right.
Still, tire makers shouldn't mistake this for disunity or a lack of purpose among dealers, whose collective market share should command more equitable treatment.