AKRON (May 25, 2016) — Ever since its founding in 1983, Tire Business has been written for the owners and managers of independent tire dealerships, most of which are family-owned businesses.
So what is the difference between a family-owned tire dealership and an independent tire dealership? Basically, they are one and the same.
The owner of a family-owned tire dealership is free to set his or her own course independently, making decisions along the way to prolong the life of and enhance the success of the business. Every move is not about the immediate bottom line, as it is for public companies that have to show positive results each quarter to their thousands of owners-¬shareholders.
Instead, it's all about doing what's right for the business, its customers and employees — with the goal of producing sales and profits for the long run. The objective also is to one day pass on ownership of the dealership to the next generation of the family, some who may have been working their way up the family corporate ladder.
This ability to chart one's own direction is no doubt one of the reasons family-owned independent tire dealerships have been able to survive since the advent of the automobile and the invention of the pneumatic tire more than 120 years ago.
It's also a reason why so many independent dealerships are now into their second, third and even fourth or fifth generations of family ownership (some of their stories are featured in this issue). Independence is powerful.
Another reason we believe many of these businesses continue to flourish — in a tire world increasingly dominated by large corporate-owned chains — is that owners of independent, family-owned tire dealerships have a stake in the success of the communities in which they operate, and in their customers and families.
That means they have to be relationship builders.
In an increasingly impersonal world, there's an advantage to having a personal relationship with the customer.
When there's a problem, for example, customers want to talk to someone in person, preferably someone they trust. If that issue involves tires, the first person they hopefully think of is their independent tire dealer, and that's precisely what the dealer wants.
All companies strive to provide personal customer service. But unless employees have a stake, a sense of ownership in the success of the business, that is difficult to achieve.
These inherent characteristics of family-owned businesses — independence and a desire for strong customer relationships — are unique. They are what make family-owned businesses special and what helps them survive long-term as changes in business and in the world take place.
This editorial appears in the May 23 print edition of Tire Business. Have an opinion on it? Send your comments or a letter to the editor to [email protected]. Please include your name, title, official name of your business, the city and state in which it's located, and an email address and daytime phone where you can be reached for verification purposes.