This may sound like a plug for a new franchise opportunity, but really it's not.
Instead, it's a way of pointing out the type of innovation and creative thinking that it will take for tire dealers, automotive service shop operators and others to survive as competition for the customers' business intensifies from more non-traditional firms getting into the business of selling tires.
Today many tire dealerships are compelled to turn away service opportunities on hybrid and/or electric vehicles because their technicians aren't trained in repairing their electrical systemsincluding the batteries. Rather than take a chance they might do harm to these vehicles' complex electronics, they send the owners back to a new car dealership for service.
The car dealership is happy for the business and, oh by the way, it can provide the customer with new tires and do all of the basic undercar services, too. The tire dealership has just put itself in a position to lose that customer.
Lesson No. 1 for staying in business: Avoid, at all costs, sending your customers to a competitor.
As fuel prices continue to rise, it's likely so will the number of hybrids and all-electric vehicles on the roadways. Forward-thinking tire dealers should find a way to capture their share of this business.
Enter Curry's Auto Service L.L.C. with an innovative idea.
Recognizing that the market for hybrid and all-electric vehicles is destined to grow, the Gainesville, Va.-based tire dealership partnered with Automotive Research & Design L.L.C. (AR&D) to develop what they call a fractional franchise designed to give independent auto service providers the ability to service hybrid vehicles.
AR&D specializes in the development of electric vehicle and hybrid electric vehicle propulsion systems and EV/HEV education, training and diagnostic equipment to the automotive aftermarket.
The franchise opportunity offers training in hybrid service, including battery reconditioning and motor-generator testing, diagnosis and replacement. The joint venture, called The Hybrid Shop (THS), already has signed four dealers to use the THS system.
In designing the franchise, Matt Curry, president of Curry's Tire, explained that the people who establish themselves first in the market are going to win the market.
As tire sales and service become more competitive, finding a heretofore unrecognized service opportunityand doing something about it, as Mr. Curry hascould well be the differentiator.