As you start to consider your winter tire order, keep in mind some dealers are moving toward a new service to boost sales and reinforce customer loyalty: seasonal tire storage.
There are no raw data, but anecdotal evidence indicates such storage is growing in popularity among retail auto and tire dealers.
"It's a great service for the dealership to offer," Kem Chowbay, retail fleet manager, Performance Acura in St. Catherine's, Ontario, said. "It also becomes a profit center for the dealership.
Mr. Chowbay introduced the concept to his dealership group a few years ago when Tire Resort — a full-service tire storage company with facilities in Brampton, Niagara and Stoney Creek, Ontario — was founded in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The service provides high-end storage, delivery, wheel washing, rim repair and refinishing. Mr. Chowbay estimated about 80 percent of dealership customers use the service, primarily those nearing retirement age.
The dealership pays $69.95 to the warehouse for each set of seasonal tires stored. Customers pay the dealership $89.95 per set and generally switch tires every six months.
"Demographics come into play," Mr. Chowbay said. "Clients that are (Baby) Boomers or have more income buy these luxury cars and need snow tires. But owners don't want to lug tires into their garages or homes, store them and then lug them back out."
The service not only continually draws customers back to the dealership but offers opportunities for additional service work.
"Statistically, the first opportunity for loss of a customer is tire sales," Mr. Chowbay said. "The reason is you think of Meineke, Midas, all of those drive-in services that offer multiple services and have lower labor rates. If people begin to use their services, you'll never see the customer again. Tire storage is something those shops can't offer."
Nick Fox, co-owner of Point S J&J Tire & Auto Service and Point S Capital City Tire & Auto Service in Helena, Mont., said even without auto dealer clients, his tire warehouse service does about $2 million in business annually at each of the company's two retail locations.
Customers primarily are those who run commercial fleets and private customers. They pay $60 for tire changeovers and $50 for storage.