RICHMOND, Va. — You won't find Mark Smith surfing his competitors' websites or scanning their local advertisements to discover what they are charging for certain automotive services.
It makes no difference to the owner of four, very lucrative Midas of Richmond locations.
He makes no apology when he says he doesn't pay attention to the competition.
"I don't worry about it," said Mr. Smith, this year's Tire Business Tire Dealer Humanitarian Award winner. "We're the highest player in the market. That's by design.
"They're going to do what they're going to do. If we do what we're supposed to do, there's enough for all of us."
In an area seemingly teeming with competition — one of his locations has seven direct competitors within eyeshot — he has a simple but successful strategy.
"We set our prices and policies, and if we execute like we're supposed to, everything else will take care of itself," he said.
It seems to have worked. Each of his shops eclipses $1 million in sales, led by his location in a swank area of Richmond called Short Pump, which will do just under $4 million in sales this year. Combined, his stores generate just under $7 million in sales.
Mr. Smith has a blueprint in place to increase Short Pump to more than $4 million in sales and his stores' overall sales to $8 million, then from there, to $5 million and $10 million, respectively.
In fact, in material submitted to Tire Business as part of the nomination process for Mr. Smith, a Midas spokesperson called the Short Pump location the "busiest and most successful" in the 1,200-plus store Midas network, with sales four times greater than the average Midas store. The spokesperson said the four stores combined more than double the Midas average.
And those figures don't account for a fifth location that Mr. Smith soon might open.
Several years ago, he purchased a 16,000-sq.-ft. vacant building for $1.3 million, located in Scott's Addition, at the time a nondescript area of Richmond.
Today, the building, renovated for an additional $1.6 million, sits in a prime location in one of the hottest markets in the country. In fact, Mr. Smith said he's been offered enough money to make a 60-to-70-percent profit on his investment to sell it.
Talk about the Midas touch.
Currently, the building is under contract to be leased, but once that expires at year-end, he'll have a decision to make: Either re-up with the lease; sell the building; or open his fifth Richmond-area location.
If he chooses to keep the building, he's already staked out office space for Virginia Blood Services, the charity with which he began his philanthropic efforts.
"It's a good problem to have," he said.