When John Quirk acquired VIP Discount Auto Center in September, the first thing he noticed was a lack of commitment to training existing employees.
That, he said, led to a rapid rate of employee turnover which was costing the company financially.
``The first day here, we decided to do something about it,'' he said.
The solution was a VIP training center, which opened its doors Nov. 20. The new center was carved out of the oldest existing VIP store at the cost about about $100,000, he said.
The new facility spans about 3,000 square feet. It features a mini-store, with classroom setting, state-of-the-art equipment, including audio/visual gear, and a mock front counter. Training curriculum is set up for entry level and advanced training.
Over the center's first three weeks more than 350 people had been through it, undergoing various levels of training, Mr. Quirk said. Training sessions are held twice weekly, with four total sessions. Mr. Quirk said he would like to see all managers and assistant managers go to the training center every six or seven weeks.
``The goal is to have an entry level technician and make him a store manager one day,'' Mr. Quirk said.
VIP operates 49 locations that sell Multi-mile, Pirelli, Continental, General, Falken, Goodyear, Michelin and BFGoodrich brand tires.
Somerset Tire Service Inc. has opened its first tire clearance center in Manville, N.J.
The Bound Brook, N.J.-based company, with 70 locations in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, was looking for a way to move discontinued tires, according to a company spokesman.
``It's not that unusual of an idea,'' the spokesman said. ``It might be new to the tire industry. I'm surprised none of the other substantial chains have done it.''
The clearance center features six bays and stocks ``thousands'' of tires. The spokesman said its creation served two purposes. First, it made use of a location that was not performing to expectations. Second, it was a place where the aforementioned merchandise could be stored and sold.
Similar to local warehouse clubs, the STS clearance center focuses on selling tires and related services at discounted prices with limited automotive service, STS said.
STS stores sell Bridgestone, Continental, Firestone, BFGoodrich, Goodyear, Michelin, Pirelli and Toyo brand tires. Tires carried at the clearance center will not be available at any other company-owned store, STS said.
A blow was struck for tire dealers everywhere when Barry Steinberg's Direct Tire & Auto in Watertown, Mass., was named Retailer of the Year by the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.
The competition, based on the findings of ``secret shoppers'' and polled customers, included retailers in all forms, not just tire or automotive industries.
``This is great not only for me, but for my 87 employees and the entire industry,'' said Mr. Steinberg, who was nominated by the Boston Chamber of Commerce,
Mr. Steinberg, whose dealership includes four stores in the greater Boston area, attributed the award to his company's middle and upper management teams and the continuity he has been able to foster.
The 27-year-old Direct Tire & Auto does about $15 million in annual sales, Mr. Steinberg said. Of that, about 8-10 percent is wholesale, but, ``we don't solicit it,'' he said.
The Watertown location covers 10,000 square feet and has 14 bays. It also has a 12,000-sq.-ft. warehouse. Direct Tire sells Cooper, Toyo, Vredestein, Pirelli, Michelin, Dunlop and Goodyear tires.