After more than a decade of slowly signing on franchisees and fine-tuning its program, Superior Tire & Auto Inc. now is eyeing growth opportunities in and outside of Toronto.
The Scarborough-based tire dealership operates two company-owned retail outlets, has six franchisees in Ontario and wants to expand by three franchisees annually, according to Frank Bongiovanni, director of business development for Superior Tire.
``We basically want to expand on the outskirts of the greater central Toronto area,'' Mr. Bongiovanni said. ``That's where the population growth is.''
Three new franchised locations-in Barrie, Markham and Etobicoke, Ontario-opened in March and April. They average five to six service bays.
Superior Tire is considering acquiring or leasing 15,000-20,000 square feet of warehouse space in Toronto by year-end or early 2007, Mr. Bongiovanni said, adding that a warehouse will be another advantage to franchisees.
``We're buying tires in larger volumes or buying containers, more so to supply our own stores because we're getting to the point now where it might be financially worth it,'' he said. ``And that's a program we're looking at-to buy tires and have a little distribution system that can cater to our stores.''
He noted that the biggest advantages Superior Tire offers franchisees is buying tires at direct cost and buying an unlimited selection of all major and private brands. Superior Tire also is working on netting an exclusive brand for its dealers, but Mr. Bongiovanni declined to elaborate.
Superior Tire franchisees also receive discounts on auto parts, group health insurance, reduced credit card service charges, exclusivity on the Mag wheel line, accounting assistance, equipment purchases/leases, advertising support and gas discounts. The initial franchise fee varies from $10,000 (Can.) and up based on a franchisee's situation, Mr. Bongiovanni said. Franchisees also pay a monthly fee, which also varies by operation.
According to Superior Tire's Web site, the maximum franchise fee is $25,000 (Can.) depending on a franchisee's size, location, leasehold improvements and equipment needs.
The dealership, owned by Paul Hyatt, established its franchise program in 1991, and the first franchisee joined it in 1992.
Mr. Bongiovanni was one of the first franchisees to sign on and was in business for 12 years until he sold his franchise to work in Superior Tire's corporate office, where he helps develop new franchisees.
``We're not in the business of turning over franchisees,'' Mr. Bongiovanni said of his work. ``We're in the business to make sure a franchise does succeed. That's our main goal.''
Superior Tire & Auto opened in 1942. Mr. Hyatt is president-elect of the Tire Industry Association.