Independent tire dealers looking for growth opportunities might want to consider becoming experts in servicing the light truck and sport utility vehicle (SUV) market.
That segment of the new vehicle business is booming and there seems to be no end in sight. In fact, a recent Chrysler Corp. survey suggests that sales of light trucks and SUVs may equal those of passenger cars by the year 2010. Some think it will happen even sooner.
For dealers, this trend provides a golden opportunity to boost sales and profits.
In the eyes of consumers, light truck tires are less of a commodity, particularly in the case of recreational vehicles, according to industry experts.
As a result, profit margins on these tires tend to be greater.
To capture a share of this market, dealers first need to determine the mix and type of vehicles in their area.
One easy way to do this, according to an industry executive, is to monitor the trucks that pass by and to count vehicles in parking lots.
That way dealers can be sure to inventory the proper tires for vehicles in their marketing area. Fortunately, there is less proliferation of sizes in light truck tires than in passenger lines.
Dealers also will want to train their employees to become experts in light truck tires. And they should advertise their businesses as the place to come for expert tire advice on vans, SUVs and pickups.
As one executive said, such advertising ought to stress that the dealership's understanding of various light truck tire applications and its extensive product line all but guarantee a successful tire buying experience.
To help propel sales and attract new business, dealers also may want to consider sponsoring events, displaying special products and services at local shows and networking with enthusiasts.
With profit margins in passenger tires eroding, becoming the local expert in light truck tires may be just the ticket to a healthier bottom line.