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Published on December 1, 2006

Take advantage of design programs

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Opinion

AKRON (Dec. 4, 2006)— Bridgestone/Firestone has an offer its independent dealers should not ignore.


It wants to help them remodel their showrooms, providing free design assistance and incentives on purchasing materials and services.


The goal, according to a corporate brochure, is to create a positive customer environment, build on the existing customer base and attract new customers to dealers' outlets.


What BFS really wants is to help its dealers stay competitive and make more money.


That's why, if it's at all economically feasible, dealers should not turn down this offer casually without giving it serious consideration.


Tire dealers today are faced with increased competition from auto dealerships aggressively moving into the retail tire arena and regional and national tire chains that seem to expand by the day. These outfits often have deep pockets and an understanding of how clean, modern showrooms and service areas make customers feel good about where they're having their vehicles serviced. It gives them an edge in the marketplace.


BFS executives said as much at the firm's recent consumer dealer meeting in Las Vegas, urging dealers to take a look in the mirror to see what image their dealerships present.


Each business owner and dealership personifies a brand, the executives said, just as Bridgestone and Firestone are brands in the marketplace. Too often, however, small business owners become so caught up in the day-to-day operations that they don't take the time to examine how customers perceive their dealerships.


BFS is right. Dealers: Step back and view your operations through your customers' eyes. If you don't like what you see, the solution may reside in BFS' offer or you can take advantage of similar programs provided by other tire makers. Change can be good. Sometimes it's downright essential.


Larry Morgan sets example


Larry Morgan is well known as a business leader who built one of the nation's largest independent tire dealership chains, now owned by Bridgestone/Firestone, and as the current owner of three auto dealerships in Florida.


He's also a past president of the Tire Industry Association, where he used his business acumen and leadership skills to help put the association back on sound financial footing.


But Mr. Morgan's greatest legacy may well be his focus in life now—helping others. He and his wife Patty recently donated $5 million to Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, Fla., for a new cardiac treatment center.


“I spent a third of my life learning, a third of my life earning and I decided to spend the rest of my life returning,” he said recently.


Quite a philosophy to follow.

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