HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Three months removed from its seventh annual dealer convention, held in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, American Tire Distributors Inc.'s (ATD) Tire Pros dealer cooperative continues on course for growth.
ATD and Tire Pros executives rolled out a variety of initiatives during the convention, the first where Ron Sinclair, Tire Pros chief marketing officer, served as the top Tire Pros executive.
According to Mr. Sinclair, Tire Pros is the largest independent tire dealer marketing network in the U.S. As of Jan. 1, the network had 748 locations in 45 states — a net gain of 44 vs. January 2016. The goal, Mr. Sinclair said at the time, is to eclipse 800 locations by year end.
This story appeared in the June 5 print edition of Tire Business.
Mr. Sinclair told dealers that the collective sales for Tire Pros dealers in 2016 rose 7.8 percent, or 5.5 percent when new stores aren't counted.
Among the initiatives discussed at the convention were:
The organization of four Mission Based Councils in which Tire Pros members, of all ages and experiences, will focus on one specific area — marketing, customer experience, training or technology.
The launch of the net promoter score (NPS) tool, a means by which dealers can measure customer satisfaction. The software, which will be funded solely by ATD and Tire Pros, will allow dealers to respond to customer comments and help them enhance customer loyalty.
An option for consumers to purchase services with a buy-it-now option on tirepros.com websites. Dealers will receive credit for any online sales.
Continued participation in the Allies for Independence campaign, which raises money to purchase of specialized wheelchairs for disabled veterans. Last year, Tire Pros dealers raised more than $125,000. Tire Pros will feature two campaign blitzes in 2017 — the first is running May 15-July 8, while the second will be held Nov. 6-Dec. 30.
A new dealer communication platform called Yammer, a free app that will allow dealers to engage and stay engaged with Tire Pros.
Separately, Mr. Sinclair answered the following Tire Business questions as Tire Pros enters the second half of 2017:
Q: With the year nearing its halfway point, how would you characterize business thus far?
A: With the winter weather that hit — and the resulting strong sales — in the last six weeks of 2016, the beginning of this year started off a little slower than usual. However, as the year has progressed, business has continued to build. As in past years, Tire Pros dealers are outpacing the industry results when compared with (USTMA) reports.
What kind of forecast do you see for the second half of the year?
We expect the business to continue to strengthen in the second half as we enter the summer driving season and then, of course, as we enter the late fall as retail consumers prepare their vehicles for winter weather.
Has the new administration and/or political climate impacted business thus far?
No specific impact can be attributed directly to the new administration.
What is the progress report on the National Dealer Council?
We hold multiple in-person meetings and conference calls with our Tire Pros National Dealer Council throughout the year. They play an important role in guiding program strategy and ensuring that Tire Pros maintains the position of a dealer-driven program.
The Mission Based Councils (MBCs), which we introduced at our National Tire Pros Dealer Conference, are off to a great start. The MBCs are already pursuing new technologies and new business opportunities for the Tire Pros program.
What has been the reaction to the net promoter score tool? Can dealers expect that to be implemented in the fourth quarter?
The introduction of the net promoter score tool has been extremely well received by our Tire Pros dealers. Yes, we are still on schedule to launch in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Have you added any more locations to Tire Pros?
ATD has always been very thoughtful and selective on bringing new dealers onto the Tire Pros program. Quite simply, we have a very high retention rate because of the process we use to bring dealers onto the program that have needs that align with the benefits that Tire Pros delivers. 800 stores by the end of 2017 remains our target.