Tully Ryan doesn't monkey around when it comes to his goal to increase sales for independent tire dealers.
The president and CEO of TireWare Inc. said so far he's been very, very happy with the tire industry's adoption of MyTireMonkey.com, an e-commerce Web site the company launched in December as a means to push online consumers to buy tires locally. Since its inception, more than 1,300 dealers have registered to use the service.
We're getting anywhere between five to 20 dealers signing up per day, Mr. Ryan said.
Rather than shipping tires across the country, TireWare works with regional wholesale distributors to sell customers tires that are already local to their area. Mr. Ryan called TireWare's system a collaborative effort with its network of distributors designed to complement and support the supply chain by providing local buying opportunities for online shoppers.
We knew we could sell tires online . We wanted to do it in a different way that supports the local neighborhood retail dealer, Mr. Ryan said.
During the summer of 2008, TireWare launched a testing phase for its e-commerce site that allowed customers to locate, price and order tires directly from a local dealer's inventory. But the company quickly realized it needed to make some changes, Mr. Ryan said.
We were providing a service where consumers can come in and request a quote and it would go out to multiple dealers, he said. What we found was that consumers wanted responses right away. As we know, requests for quotes take a little bit of time, and dealers are busy so we had to change our model to 'Hey, well let's just tap into inventory and sell tires directly.'
Under the current model, MyTireMonkey.com buys tires from regional distributors as customers purchase them online. The tires are then shipped to a local dealership of that customer's choosing for installation.
We're making our money selling tires, but we're really providing a service to consumers, and that service is the tire buying experience, Mr. Ryan said. It's about the communication and collaboration that goes on when the tire is ordered, processed, dispatched and delivered for installation at the local neighborhood retail dealer, who sets up the appointment with the consumer.
Mr. Ryan said because the firm distributes tires on a regional level, it is able to save a tremendous amount of money on shipping costs and pass those savings on to customers.
We don't have any large shipping fees because the distributors are delivering those tires on their normal route trucks, he said. That's a pretty big cost savings for consumers when you compare our pricing to other drop/ship fulfillment companies using FedEx or other third parties to deliver the tires.
The other thing we are very pleased about is, because the tires are already regional to the consumer when consumers buy tires from us today, they're typically having them installed tomorrow, he said.
The tire dealers registered with MyTireMonkey.com do not make money from the Web site's tire sales, but they benefit from the addition of online shoppers to their customer base and any additional sales they create.
When consumers use MyTireMonkey.com to purchase tires, TireWare will assign their records to the dealers chosen to install their tires. The company will then send regular maintenance reminder e-mails to those consumers, as well as coupons that can be used for services.
What we want to do is touch consumers every three or four months and drive them back into the dealers, be it for an oil change or alignment or other preventative maintenance services, Mr. Ryan said. It's the vision of continuously getting these consumers into those stores.
Dealers that are chosen for tire installations also receive 5 percent of the delivery fee for the tires or 10 percent if the customer purchased the tires through a private label link to MyTireMonkey.com installed on the dealer's Web site.
Rick Watts, co-owner of Rick's Tire & Auto Inc., a one-outlet retail automotive service business in Mechanicsville, Va., said since adopting the MyTireMonkey service five months ago his shop has seen two to five new customers each week for tire installations.
It's been great for us, Mr. Watts said, adding that he has retained about 95 percent of the customers he's gained through MyTireMonkey.com orders. As a little shop, I could not afford to have the Internet presence I have with (TireWare's) help.
Mr. Watts said his company was set up strictly as an auto service shop and implementing the program has added a new dimension to the business, allowing it to become competitive with larger Internet tire dealers.
He said that although his company only earns a 5-percent delivery fee for tires ordered on MyTireMonkey.com, the benefit of gaining another customer far outweighs any additional income.
(The customers) were out there floating around on the Internet, so they weren't my customers anyway, he said. That 5 percent on those tires is more of a plus as long as I get those customers in the door.
There is no cost for tire dealerships that wish to participate to register or use the program, but in order to minimize competition Mr. Ryan said new dealers must meet the approval of distributors with which they are affiliated.
We are not interested in having dealers on top of each other, Mr. Ryan said. We've got to have enough density to give convenience, but we're not putting dealers across the street from each other. He added that the company is mainly interested in adding dealerships that heavily focus on customer service.
So far MyTireMonkey.com's service area is concentrated mainly on the East coast, but Mr. Ryan said the company is in the process of scaling up nationally and hopes to eventually have between 10,000 and 15,000 dealers.
He added that the company also is interested in expanding its e-commerce program to aggregate buying groups on a national level, and that the company would be making some announcements about its plans in the near future.
The growth and success of MyTireMonkey.com has surprised Mr. Ryan, who said the program has even generated interest within the motorsports community.
After hearing about MyTireMonkey.com from an associate, a general manager for a NASCAR team contacted Mr. Ryan about sponsoring Mario Gosselin's No. 12 Chevrolet Silverado for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. As a result of their discussions, MyTireMonkey.com inked an agreement to sponsor the truck for a minimum of 10 races in 2009 and 2010. Mr. Ryan said the company intends to maintain its sponsorship through the end of 2010.
TireWare and DGM Racing will debut the MyTireMonkey.com Chevrolet Silverado truck Oct. 31 before the Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala. The truck's first race will be the WinStar World Casino 350 Nov. 6 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.
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