The four largest marketing groups, based on outlets with common banners, underwent some changes this past year and are mapping plans to sign up more independent tire dealerships during the coming months. The marketing groups have become popular with their packages of programs aimed at helping individual dealers compete against giant retailers. The groups offer national program discounts for a variety of products and services, marketing and advertising support and, in some cases, a custom-brand tire line.
The following is a recap of the four groups' activities and plans for the next year:
MEMPHIS, Tenn.-American Car Care Centers signed up 110 dealers so far this year, but also replaced some members, for a net gain of 40 new locations. ACCC currently has 854 locations in the 48 continental states and 18 distributor/stockholders.
Earlier this year, ACCC lost its long-time general manager when Dennis DeLeonard resigned to pursue other career opportunities. His duties were to be divided among several new positions at the Memphis-based headquarters.
Meanwhile, ACCC's goal to have 2,000 dealers by the year 2000 is still within reach, according to President Len Lewin.
Currently, ACCC is focusing on improving its current services and national account programs.
``We plan to take what we have and make them better.*.*.*and add more programs to meet dealers' needs. We're looking to update and add services,'' said David Crawford, who joined ACCC as director of marketing in March.
DETROIT-In March, Metro 25 Tire marked its first anniversary since making the transition to a member-owned cooperative. Officials said the buying group had 89 shareholding members and an additional 38 non-member dealers who flew the Metro 25 banner.
The buying group also underwent a brief leadership shuffle when tire marketing consultant John Wagner joined the organization as president at the beginning of the year to map the further expansion of the group. But after only a few months, Mr. Wagner left the post and Metro 25 founder and chairman, Duane Rao resumed his role at the helm.
Metro 25 has locations in Michigan, Ohio, California, Oklahoma, New Jersey and New York.
PORTLAND, Ore.-Since December, Northwest Tire Factory co-founder Al Taylor has helped the member-owned dealer group grow from 83 to 99 locations.
But he wants one more.
That's because Mr. Taylor has said he will retire when the group hits the 100 mark.
``The more (dealers) we add, the more calls we get (from other dealers.) I'm pretty sure I can get one more,'' Mr. Taylor said with a chuckle.
During the past year, Northwest Tire Factory expanded in Oregon and Washington. The group also has member-dealers in Idaho and Montana.
The buying group boosted 1995 retail sales 11 percent over its original estimate, ending the year at $95 million. Mr. Taylor estimated the group's current sales at $107 million.
Northwest Tire Factory, which incorporated in 1987, began as three stores to pool resources for purchasing and advertising.
The group offers volume discounts on tires and auto parts, warranties, sales and service training and a common identity for its members, who add ``Tire Factory'' to their store names.
BRENTWOOD, Tenn.-CarMerica expects to double its membership of 73 locations in the next 12 months after recently removing a ``major barrier'' for potential new members, according to President Lloyd Gallicki.
Until now, a CarMerica location only had CarMerica signs. Beginning Aug. 1, 50 percent of the signs at a location may advertise the dealership's trade name. The policy change is expected to win over potential members reluctant to shed their individual identities, Mr. Gallicki said.
CarMerica also is now allowing prospective members to take advantage of the group's operational services before they commit to becoming a CarMerica location.
CarMerica provides a business analysis to help dealers improve their bottom line. This involves analyzing expenses, services and the customer base and compiling a 90-day objective and action plan.
CarMerica provides dealer programs through its 15-member wholesaler network.