LOS ANGELES — When rally/off-road racer/stunt driver Andrew Comrie-Picard started his business ZipTire.net in 2017, he was convinced the time was right to get into the mobile tire-servicing business and Los Angeles was a market ready to embrace the concept.
His instinct proved correct, he said in a recent interview with Tire Business, but the business really has taken off in recent months, as customers turn more and more to businesses offering "no contact" service during the COVID-10 pandemic era.
Mr. Comrie-Picard, a transplanted Canadian with a decade-plus of racing experience, said interest in his business shot up by about a third since the start of stay-at-home orders hit California in late March/early April.
Since then business has been brisk for him and his crew of three, he said. On average, each driver/tire technician makes six calls a day, although the relatively empty California highways in April and early May allowed the scheduling of an extra call or two when conditions were right.
ZipTire restricts its calls to tire/wheel services — mounting, balancing and installation/rotation — and tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) resets.
The decision to keep the service restricted has played out well during the pandemic, he said, because it allows ZipTire to offer a completely contact-free transaction. He and his techs normally don't have to get into a customer's car if it's parked in a safe, serviceable spot.
As for TPMS reset, more and more later model cars have self-recognition capabilities, he noted, and for most other models he said he's able to instruct customers over the phone on how to take care of that.
One drawback of a mobile tire-service operation is the inability to perform alignments, a situation Mr. Comrie-Picard acknowledges, while also noting he and his team of tire techs are trained "to read the tires" for alignment problems.
"I'd say less than 5% of the cars we service are in need of an alignment," he said, adding that ZipTire has "vetted" a number of brick-and-mortar stores in the area that he can recommend for an alignment.
Mr. Comrie-Picard — who's known widely simply by his initials "ACP" — said his goal for ZipTire is to provide "honest and effective advice and maximum convenience."
That "honest and effective" claim extends to tire choice, he said, stating that ZipTire strives to be "brand agnostic," even though he's had a business relationship in the past with Michelin North America as a "brand ambassador" for BFGoodrich.
As with most purveyors of mobile businesses, Mr. Comrie-Picard acknowledges the "secret sauce" of mobile tire servicing is the ability to schedule customer visits effectively.