On the Monday or Tuesday of each TIRE BUSINESS deadline week, I have a habit of telling everyone on the editorial staff, ``This is going to be a great issue!'' It's become something of a joke because I do it so often. But the truth is, I think most of our issues are special.
OK, maybe I'm biased, but I get excited each time I read a story that I think dealers will find interesting and useful in running their businesses.
This issue is no exception. It's packed with news and information that will keep readers on top of changes happening in our dynamic industry.
Take reporter Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk's story, starting on page 6, about Ford Motor Co.'s new Auto Care pilot program, for example.
It's a fascinating report on how Ford is seeking to tap further into the $150 billion out-of-warranty service segment with stand-alone satellite service centers that operate independently of auto dealers' showrooms.
Ford is struggling with the concept, but the impact on tire dealers, should the program blossom, could be dramatic. Sig's story tells how two Auto Care pilot sites are doing and how one nearby independent tire dealer views the competition.
Another interesting story is reporter Greg Kennedy's account on page 9 of Big O Tires Inc.'s attempt to entice potential small-business owners to become Big O franchisees.
The company has discovered that most of its new franchisees are first-time business owners, many of them displaced middle managers who've decided to go into business for themselves.
To reach these new customers with a powerful marketing statement, Big O used the results of the most recent J.D. Power & Associates replacement tire survey, which found the Big O brand best in terms of customer satisfaction.
This is a good example of a company that has recognized a change in its potential customer base and has reacted with an effective marketing campaign.
If you're wondering what North America's 25 largest independent tire dealerships have been up to during the past year, this issue tells you, beginning on page 13.
Coordinated by reporter Kathy McCarron, this annual ranking sheds light on the business operations of the ``big boys,'' including store openings and closings, marketing strategies and expansions.
It's a must-read story for independent tire dealers looking to keep pace with the industry's trend-setters.
And now you know why ``this is another great issue.''
Mr. Zielasko is editor and associate publisher of TIRE BUSINESS.