PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Dunn Tire L.L.C.'s Exxpress Tire Delivery wholesale business is forecasting double-digit sales growth this year following a 13-percent increase last year vs. 2016, according to Dave Simons, Dunn's executive vice president and Chief Financial Officer.
While impressive — especially in a year when U.S. passenger and light truck tire shipments were relatively flat — the pressing question for Steve Clave, the dealership's managing director of wholesale operations, is how to keep the momentum going in 2018 and beyond.
"This year our goal is sustainability," Mr. Clave told tire dealers, car dealers and suppliers attending the Exxpress Tire Delivery Meeting, Feb. 26-March 2, at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar on Paradise Island. "How do we continue moving the company on the growth trend that was shared by Mr. Simons?"
Dunn Tire began to address that question aggressively in 2017, Mr. Clave said, when it refreshed the business' brand identity, complete with a redesigned logo featuring arrows, inferring a direction of moving forward. It also opened a 75,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Rochester, N.Y., that replaced a smaller facility in the city and introduced enhancements to its Exxpress Car Care dealership program.
The goal for 2018 is to improve customer service and be "consistent, consistent, consistent," Paul Pitner, managing director of procurement and supply chain, said in an interview.
That includes introducing electronic routing into the company's 60,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Buffalo, N.Y., by mid to late April, following its implementation in the Rochester and Pittsburgh warehouses. Dunn opened the Pittsburgh facility in late 2014 establishing a new marketing territory for Exxpress Tire Delivery.
The dealership also operates warehouses in Erie, Pa., and Syracuse, N.Y.
Electronic routing "is a software application that allows us to input all of our dealers," Mr. Clave said. "It will optimize data and lay out the most efficient route" for the company's delivery vehicles. The software also will allow the company to measure performance and operational benchmarks and logistics.
"We can get all these benchmarks and figure out what we are doing and how do we translate that into making a better customer experience," Mr. Pitner said.
In the product area, Exxpress Tire Delivery added the Nexen brand to its tire offerings, which include Antares, BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Continental, Crosswind, Dunlop, Firestone, General, Goodyear, Hankook, Kelly, Kumho, Mastercraft, Michelin, Pirelli, Sailun, Uniroyal, Yokohama and TBC (Sumitomo) brands.
Representatives from 10 of those brands presented their 2018 associate dealership sales/purchase programs at the meeting. Dealers can expect to see an array of tire promotions in 2018, Mr. Clave said, via "the brand support we receive from the manufacturers."
Dunn Tire expects to relaunch the Exxpress Tire website in the third quarter after delaying its introduction last year. The website will allow dealers to search by tire brand and size and see timing for deliveries.
It will be user friendly on all devices, Mr. Clave said, including desktops, tablets and mobile devices and will become the dealership's primary communications tool moving forward.
Mr. Clave also touted Dunn's Exxpress Car Care Centers dealer marketing program, calling it a program built for the small independent dealer.
"It allows you to compete with the regional and national retailers in the marketplace," he said, adding it's solution-based "to reach your highest potential."
The program has five components:
- A warranty program that includes road-hazard protection and a 12-month, 12,000-mile service warranty;
- A Best Practices group "made up of your peers"; A discount program including parts and lube kits, information services, merchant and banking services and recycling disposal;
- Marketing campaigns that provide an integrated approach to maximize reach to targeted customers; and
- Progressive digital technology and online marketing solutions.
Dunn Tire has 47 Exxpress Car Care locations and looks to grow that number to 75 by year end.
In addition to the Exxpress Car Care Delivery and Exxpress Car Care Centers operations, Buffalo-based Dunn operates 29 retail stores in western New York and Pennsylvania.
Exxpress Tire Delivery delivered more than 1 million tires in 2017, and the company anticipates approaching 1.2 million units in 2018, Mr. Simons said. Sales to car dealerships grew 5 percent in 2017 and now account for 35 percent of the unit's revenues.
Exxpress Tire Delivery makes up three-quarters of Dunn's total sales.