"...So that took us to say we need to renegotiate. We need to change our business model. We need to become that full service dealer."
Working with its national fleet customers, Mr. Carr said TravelCenters learned more about what their needs were in a service provider.
Retreading was a key, he said, especially the ability to offer multiple retread "brands" that would allow fleet customers a choice in available products and at various price points.
That led TravelCenters to broaden its retread offerings from one brand, Goodyear, to include Bandag retreads and third-party retreads for local sales.
"Our retreading was locked down to just what we just carried and offered," Mr. Carr said.
"We've opened the doors in other areas now to where we have the ability to take customers tires and retread them, and take care of their casings, manage their casings, manage their tire program for them."
In launching the TA Truck Service Commercial Tire Network, TravelCenters considered opening its own retreading operations. Instead, it opted to partner with companies that already manufacture retreads in a move that it said also supports the retreading industry.
This has worked out well, Mr. Carr said. "We have multiple retread partners that offer all the benefits of our own retread shop, however, being able to utilize someone else's facility, someone else's investment... and support them through our business efforts and strengths."
Listening to customers, working with suppliers to enhance offerings and providing customers with more choices in products and price levels has become the company's mantra in all segments of its business, according to Mr. Carr.
"The big push, everybody wants to lock you into that one or two brands," he said. "That one or two offering, that really bounds you to that product."
But by not being so brand- or product-specific and instead offering multiple choices, TravelCenters has seen growth "in every category of every product that we offer" previous to this change, Mr. Carr said.
The goal is to bring more drivers, fleets and operators, large and small, into TravelCenters doors with not only more offerings but also the right things that the customers need, Mr. Carr said.
"Your driver can come into our shop, get some fuel, get some tires," he said.
"If we find some work when we're doing the tires, we can do the repair right there. While that's going on, he can take a shower, get a bite to eat, buy a card for his wife and drive out the door and go home all in one stop. And that goes back to the solution."