AGOURA HILLS, Calif.—Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc. is the nation's best passenger and light truck tire retailer in terms of customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power and Associates' latest customer satisfaction study.
Prineville, Ore.-based Les Schwab, which operates 318 company-owned and franchised outlets, primarily in the Pacific Northwest, scored high marks in each of the five rating criteria: people, service, facility, reputation and product selection, J.D. Power said.
"People and service are the largest contributing factors to retailer satisfaction, and Les Schwab is the only retailer with customers who listed high-quality service as a top reason for purchase," said Jeff Zupancic, senior manager of tire practice at J.D. Power, in a prepared statement.
"Tire retailers need to focus on customer satisfaction because there is definitely a positive relationship between retailer satisfaction and customer loyalty," Mr. Zupancic said.
Les Schwab President Phil Wick said the award "reconfirms what we thought all along about how a dealership should be run."
Les Schwab, the second-largest independent tire dealership in North America on a sales basis, is planning to open 20 more stores next year, Mr. Wick said. The company operates in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, northern California, northern Nevada, western Montana and "a couple of stores in Alaska," he said.
Following Les Schwab in the ratings were Big O Tires Inc., Discount Tire Co. Inc., Price Club/ Costco and Goodyear Auto Centers, J.D. Power said. Finishing below the industry average in retailer satisfaction were, in alphabetical order: Firestone Car Care Centers, National Tire & Battery, Pep Boys—Manny, Moe & Jack, Sam's Club, Sears Auto Centers and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
J.D. Power based its ratings on responses from more than 7,400 vehicle owners in the U.S. who had purchased replacement tires for their vehicles during 1999. The firm initially surveyed 120,000 households and received 14,000 responses. Participants then were sent a detailed replacement tire and retailer customer satisfaction study.
Tire Rack Inc., the top-ranked retailer during the past two years, did not merit mention this year, following J.D. Powers' revamping of its evaluation criteria, putting greater emphasis on personnel and service. Tire Rack is a mail order and online retailer.