OREGON, Ohio-Specialization and a comprehensive tire inventory are ways independent tire dealers can outperform the warehouse clubs and mass merchandisers, according to National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association President James Faught. During the Ohio Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association convention, June 17, Mr. Faught, owner of Northwest Tire & Service in Flint, Mich., offered encouragement to dealers who compete with mass mer-chandisers.
Re-emphasizing that dealers hold about 55 percent of the retail replacement market in tires, Mr. Faught pointed out that ``all is not well'' in other distribution channels, noting the closure of Source Club and Kmart Corp.'s Pace Warehouse and the shuttering of a large number of Kmart retail stores. ``The warehouse market is pretty much saturated,'' he added.
And while there will continue to be casualties among the ranks of independent dealerships, independent dealers ``can and do outperform other channels of distribution,'' he said.
``Consumers buy tires from specialists,'' he continued. ``Size has nothing to do with a dealer's ability to perform. We win because we're specialists. We execute better and more efficiently.''
Mr. Faught supported carrying a broad selection of tires sizes. He admitted proliferation can create headaches for inventory management, but it can help a dealership competing with clubs, which only carry the most popular selections.
Dealers ``must be prepared to handle and service situations like'' the Dodge Ram line, Mr. Faught said, which requires a total of 18 different tire sizes.
Rather than compete head-to-head on price, Mr. Faught suggested dealers carry alternate brands or products whose prices cannot be directly compared with competitors'. Dealers can make a profit on sizes the competition doesn't carry, he noted.
Keeping a broad inventory is important for servicing today's consumer, who requires immediate service.
``No longer do you have the opportunity to delay a consumer's order while determining how you will fill it,'' Mr. Faught said. ``It's a sin to say `I can't get it.'*''
Other points he said dealers should consider include:
Visit competitors' stores to find out how they operate. ``Knowing your competitor, shopping your competitor, is a must'';
Review your store hours-``If the competition is open, you must (be open) or you lose'';
Offer free tire-related services and specials-maintenance specials provide ``the best bang for the buck to keep customers tied to our stores'';
Take advantage of suppliers' special deals;
Avoid long lists of tires in your ads and keep changing the sizes listed ``to keep the competition off guard''; and
Minimize pricing in your ads-``Have you ever seen warehouse clubs advertise price anywhere?''