KINGSTON, Ontario — Franchisee Jeff Hall operates the two busiest Midas Auto Service stores in Canada by offering an extensive tire inventory, low-priced oil changes and a lot of "extras."
Midas franchisor TBC Corp. said Mr. Hall's two stores in Kingston are the most successful in the brand's 148-store Canadian chain and rank in the top 10 for sales among Midas' 1,300 stores throughout North America.
Mr. Hall's stores rack up three times as much business from tires as they do from mufflers and exhaust, items Midas originally built its business on when it was founded 60 years ago.
TBC, which acquired Midas in 2012, launched a "tire sales initiative" in April 2016 to begin shifting the sales mix at its franchised Midas auto repair network more toward tires.
The two-year initiative is aimed at making the chain "a significant player in the tire business," the company said at the time.
Mr. Hall, however, had been pushing tires long before that.
"We got on the tire bandwagon about seven years ago in a big way. We had a pretty good business in tires before TBC," Mr. Hall said. "So when TBC said they were rolling in tires, we were already there. It's absolutely a crucial element to our future, for sure."
Tire sales make up about 40 percent of his business in winter months but averages close to 20 percent for the year.
After he opened his first outlet in a closed storefront 10 years ago, Mr. Hall grew his business with a mixture of tire sales and automotive service from $650,000 Canadian in annual sales to $2.8 million two years ago.
At that point, he decided to build a second, state-of-the-art location in the same city.
The 6,400-sq.-ft. Gardiners Road store, which opened in 2015, features 40-foot ceilings, a 900-sq.-ft. tire showroom, four express drive-through bays and six traditional service bays.
"With my focus on tires, I wanted a retail presence on a main street," said Mr. Hall, who built the store in a high-traffic retail area next to a new McDonald's restaurant.
"I want customers to think of us when they think of tires, and with our location, we take advantage of drop-in business. We have the showroom and the location to help us sell, and customers can't believe the tire selection we offer."
Both stores service 70 to 80 cars a day, he told Tire Business, noting, "Selling tires has been a huge customer acquisition. If we weren't in the tire business, we wouldn't have the sales that we have."
Mr. Hall, who advertises heavily on radio and TV, displays about 50 tires in his newer flagship store and another 25 in the older store, "so when you walk in, you know we're in the business.... We're always drawing attention to the fact that we're in the tire business."
About 55 percent of his tire sales are premium brands while 45 percent are opening price-point tire brands.
"We usually carry between 1,000 and 1,500 tires in stock between the two stores, and we can access them pretty easily."
Beating the competition
One of the key competitive advantages for Mr. Hall's Midas stores is that he offers free tire storage for his customers. In a market that has two distinct driving seasons, many customers want a place to store their winter or summer tires in the respective off-seasons.