CLEVELAND—Goodyear and Cleveland-based Conrad's Tire Service Inc. have begun a pilot program to bring ``a full-functioning tire store'' right to a customer's door. Under ``Tire Valet,'' the customer calls a toll-free number to purchase a set of Goodyear or Kelly tires and schedule an appointment to have them installed on his or her vehicle—at home, work or wherever—for a service charge of $39.95 above the cost of the tires.
``This is a heavily promoted effort between Goodyear and Conrad's,'' said Dominic Umek, Conrad's general manager. The program began Aug. 1 and is being offered on a test basis in the Cleveland area only through the dealership's stores, which operate as Conrad's Total Car Care and Tire Centers.
Tire Valet will be promoted as ``the tire store that comes to you.''
Conrad's is planning to purchase about 100 radio spots per week during traffic reports on various Cleveland-area radio stations. The dealership also will run ads in Sunday editions of Cleveland's daily newspaper, spots on cable TV and two direct mailings.
Mr. Umek said the initial advertising campaign will last about six weeks, but there is no set length for this pilot program. Goodyear and Conrad's are sharing the startup costs, but he did not provide specifics, calling it a ``cooperative effort.''
The program's success, Mr. Umek said, ``really depends on how comfortable consumers are with us coming to their home or place of business to replace their tires.'' He compared this service to having a service technician come to your home to repair an appliance.
Conrad's has outfitted one of its vans with about $20,000 in equipment—a computerized balancer, a tire mounting unit, compressor, generator and other tools needed to replace a set of tires. Mr. Umek said the truck has space for 16 new tires—enough to handle about one-half of a typical day's service calls.
Since Conrad's has 26 locations throughout the Cleveland area—including nine Goodyear Tire & Automotive Service locations purchased in May—Mr. Umek said the truck can be restocked at any of the locations and continue on its route without having to return to a central distribution point.
The truck also is equipped with a computer, modem and wireless telephone to allow the operator to write up invoices and accept credit card payments right at the truck.
Mr. Umek said the service is designed for consumers who are ``time stressed'' and willing to pay for the added convenience of not having to wait at the dealership. He said market research indicated potential customers are in the age range of 25-54 with an income above $35,000.
``We've been a little surprised by the demographics of people we've done market research on,'' he said, adding that women staying home with multiple children also showed a strong interest in Tire Valet.
These women want to avoid visiting a tire store, where they'll have to sit for an hour ``with several children who are bored out of their minds,'' he said.
Goodyear already operates a similar service in Europe, and other retailers there provide on-location battery service and oil changes. However, Mr. Umek said there are no plans to add other services. He said market research indicates that Conrad's could need up to four trucks to meet demand once the program becomes well-known.