AKRON-All systems are ``go'' for Goodyear's plans to launch two new retail store concepts in the Buffalo, N.Y., area. The Akron-based tire maker is converting nine of its 11 existing company-owned Goodyear Auto Service Centers in the Buffalo/Niagara Falls market to the new formats: ``All Systems Go,'' a full-service tire and vehicle maintenance and repair facility; and ``Tire Max,'' primarily a tire sales and service outlet.
Aug. 1 was the target date for completing the conversions, and the affected stores were expected to remain open for business throughout the transition.
Goodyear will evaluate the converted stores for an undetermined period of time before deciding whether to roll out the new concepts in additional markets, a company spokesman said, adding that there are no plans, at present, to make the new store formats available to either Goodyear franchisees or dealers.
Six stores were slated to become All Systems Go outlets, which, like traditional Goodyear-owned stores, will carry only Goodyear brand tires and offer full automotive service. The difference will be a focus on routine maintenance.
All Systems Go stores will use direct mail to send customers regular service reminders-at the intervals recommended by the various vehicle manufacturers for each type of service, the Goodyear spokesman emphasized.
The mailings will be coordinatedusing computer software developed exclusively for Goodyear, the spokesman said.
``The new format is designed to help consumers take the guesswork out of buying auto service. . . , giving them the information they need to make confident decisions regarding their vehicles' maintenance and repair,'' said Debra Walker, Goodyear's vice president of retail systems.
``All Systems Go is based on earning a customer's trust by providing objective inspections and high-quality work,'' she
The Tire Max concept-like the ``Just Tires'' format Goodyear launched in 1990-is designed to appeal primarily to ``time-conscious consumers who value fast tire installation at low prices,'' the company said.
However, the three Tire Max outlets also will offer undercar service, including alignments; steering, suspension and brake work; and oil changes/lube jobs. They will sell Goodyear and Concorde brand tires, the latter a Goodyear-made associate brand with more entry-level pricing.
The All Systems Go and Tire Max formats were created by Goodyear's Retail Systems unit following extensive market research, the Goodyear spokesman said. The company's goal is ``to have a portfolio of successful retail formats,'' he said.
Buffalo got the nod for the current test because it met the demographic profile Goodyear had established, the spokesman said, and because of its proximity to Akron (about 220 miles).