So much has changed in the tire industry, it's no wonder some dealers worry about their future in an increasingly competitive and demanding marketplace. Many dealers, to their chagrin, are finding that business practices that worked well in the past no longer are producing sufficient results to assure success.
Some dealers realize their businesses too must change with the times or be left behind in the dust. The all-important question is ``how?''
Three articles in this issue answer this question.
In the first (page 3), marketing consultant and past president of the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association Joe DePaolis offers dealers a do-it-yourself plan for increasing market share by: 1) determining the boundaries, demographics and dollar potential of their marketplace; 2) setting attainable sales objectives; and 3) formulating and carrying out an effective marketing program to accomplish those objectives.
He notes that many dealers who feel threatened by mass merchandisers and discounters have no idea of the differences between their customer base and that of such competitors-nor how to capitalize on their own strengths vs. the competition's weaknesses.
This is precisely what Iowa State University Professor Kenneth Stone illustrates in an article on page 13.
Mr. Stone, who like Mr. DePaolis was a featured speaker at the recent NTDRA convention in Dallas, has studied the impact of new Wal-Mart stores and Sam's Club warehouse outlets on existing retail businesses.
He advises independent tire dealers neither to surrender to these formidable competitors nor impoverish themselves by trying to meet their low-ball pricing. Mr. Stone offers better ways by which dealers can compete.
Meanwhile, automotive service writer Dan Marinucci, in his column on page 7, shows how one veteran shop owner is ``reinventing'' his business by catering to young urban professionals who are willing to pay for the convenience of his location, the quality and dependability of his work and the dealer's own personalized service.
These articles show that dealers can-and must-take charge of their own destiny. We hope many will do so.