LAS VEGAS—Big O Tires Inc. has launched an associate dealer program designed to attract existing tire dealers into the Big O franchise program.
Under the program, qualifying dealers can convert to the Big O program without having to pay the $25,000 franchise fee, and are given two opportunities to opt out of the standard 10-year franchise term—after three years and seven years, according to the company.
The company already has converted seven independent dealers to Big O through the associate dealer program, said David Boeke, vice president, franchise development, and is discussing the program with dozens more. A large share of the dealers being targeted for the associate dealer program are small Firestone dealers who are looking for a change, Mr. Boeke said.
Another reason for the company's change from its previous policy of working with start-up operations only, Mr. Boeke said, is a general lack of parties qualified to become franchisees. This shortage relates to the strong economy, which creates a broader array of investment opportunities for individuals with sufficient capital to be considered for a franchise like Big O, Mr. Boeke said.
Big O has kept existing franchisees apprised of the situation, according to Wes Stevenson, president of Big O Tires in Las Vegas, who also sits on the Big O dealer advisory board. "Most of us have no problem with this program," Mr. Stevenson said, "as long as territories are respected."
Among the features offered are generous terms on up to $50,000 in inventory—interest-only for the first 12 months—and dollar-for-dollar matching funds for up to $50,000 in advertising and store renovation expenditures, according to company literature.
At last count, there were 473 Big O stores in the U.S. and 40 in Canada. TBC Corp./Big O own 11 stores outright and have 50-percent ownership of 11 more.