From an advertising standpoint the best name for your business is one that describes your tire business e.g. “One Stop Tire Center.” When businesses strive for uniqueness by using non-descriptive names many potential customers pass them by not realizing the business offers the very product they need. This word of caution also applies to arty signs that don’t convey the nature of the business.

If you use your full name in the title of the business such as “Jonathan Harrington Tire Center” or “Sam Younger Tire Co. you will (if you pay your bills on time) improve your personal credit as you build your company’s credit. This process can also build prestige in the community. After a time people will immediately recognize your name.

If disaster enters the picture and your business goes broke your personal credit rating will also suffer. Consider building up your personal credit and then converting the business to a corporation by using only your last name. On the other hand selling a business with a nonfamily name is easier if you ever want to get out.


Image the way your store its products and prices are viewed by the public is very important. Some tire retailers will therefore direct a large part of their advertising and promotion toward building a good company image. You will have to decide how much you can afford to spend to establish improve and maintain your image. This expenditure may be compensated for by increased revenues.


The sign is the most important contact between your tire center and much of the outside world. Usually it is the first thing a potential customer sees. Your sign should be sufficiently bright and conspicuous to attract attention (without being garish) and sufficiently informative to let prospective customers know what is sold there.

Ride around town and observe which signs catch your eye. Note which ones don’t, then think of the impression each sign leaves you with. Remember that first impressions last longest.

Install a large professional-looking sign that can be seen easily from all directions. Don’t try to save money on this important advertising device. Also make use of signs provided by manufacturers. These familiar logos and symbols can be attached to your exterior walls and can provide hooks for passing cars. We also think it makes sense to have your phone number prominently displayed either on your exterior wall or as part of your sign. If you are planning to be open during evening hours it makes sense to have an electrified sign with a strong logo that will grab attention. An electrified sign measuring 3 x 10 can run $1 500 to $3 000 or more depending on how much creative design the contractor has to do. If you go to him with a clear idea of layout lettering and so on he is likely not to charge as much as if you go to him with no idea at all what you want your sign to look like. In any case don’t try to save money on this important advertising device. If your sign looks professional potential customers are likely to conclude that your business is a professional operation.


You’ll find that people often like to bring in their cars on the way to work and pick them up at the end of the day. If you want to make money in this business make it easy for customers to accomplish this.

You can readily see that extended hours may loom ahead such as from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to noon or 5:00 p.m. Saturdays. Many tire stores aren’t open on Sundays one reason being that tire wholesalers aren’t open either eliminating same-day delivery of special-order merchandise.

Our view is that it makes sense for the new kid in town to open on Sundays because weekends are the only time most consumers have to take care of auto service. This may mean you have to hire part- time crews or that you need somebody to act as weekend manager. But be aware that if you and other tire independents aren’t open Sundays and Sears K-Mart Montgomery Ward and chain auto stores are the Sunday trade and possible future business is going to go elsewhere. That trade should be yours. If you have strong customer relations you should be able to find a way around the fact that a tire wholesaler doesn’t make round-the-clock deliveries of specialty tires on Sundays.


The manager’s first chore is to warm up the air compressor which should take about 10 minutes. The early part of the day is spent putting jobs in order making sure the crews have enough spare parts for scheduled tire installation and other automotive services and making sure all work that was supposed to have been done the previous day was in fact done.

The manager or other authorized person will be placing orders as needed with tire wholesalers taking delivery on inventory signing invoices and putting these in- voices into accounts payable. Additionally he or she will likely be doing all or part of the selling and making sure that installation paperwork and traffic is running smoothly.

Cars will start coming in early with work orders written up and jobs assigned to general-service personnel. Most auto-service shops work on a first-come first- served basis making appointments by the day. Assuming you’ve got the inventory available a customer who buys tires can have them installed the same day.

At the end of the day it’s important to review the status of installations (and/or front-end/brake work etc.). If a customer drops off his car in the morning but will have to wait an extra day because you didn’t get to his car be sure to let him know before HZ travels all the way back. He doesn’t want too many surprises and you don’t want an unsatisfied customer. Also if an unforeseen problem with brakes alignment wheels or delivery of a special-ordered tire arises it’s preferable and in some states required to call the customer to ask him how he wants to handle it rather than pushing ahead without checking.


Fortunately virtually every customer who walks through your doors is a qualified lead because of the nature of the tire-replacement business. Unfortunately the business is highly competitive. Many customers will call first and ask for information then come in and see for them, what tire deals you’ve got to offer. You must therefore make the right impression from the start.


Greet customers in a friendly manner. Let them browse looking at tire displays manufacturer-supplied brochures and so on. Tell them to take their time and that if they have any questions simply to ask.

There will be questions from the very naive to very knowledgeable. Some customers will know the size and type of tire they need checking to see who has the lowest price. However salespeople must be familiar enough with the classifications of tires and wheels to talk intelligently about differences in sizes types and specs. Many times customers will be following up on a brand of tire they’ve seen advertised. Make sure you monitor trade news through association and other industry publications so you’ll know what kinds of questions to expect.

Dynamics of an individual sale will vary but a few factors will remain constant. You need to know three things: what kind of car the tires will be mounted on how much the customer wants to spend and whether the customer’s vehicle will be exposed to any extraordinary driving conditions. The kind of car is important because not all tires even of the same size will fit all vehicles of the same size. According to one source this is the legacy of the unstandardized downsizing of cars in the 1970s. The days when five or six standard sizes would cover all American passenger cars are gone. You will find 13 14 15 inch sizes all being used on automobiles today.

Once you have the answers to the basic questions show tires compatible with the customer’s requirements. Demonstrate various features of tires regarding tire wear mounting tread traction etc. Take a tip from successful floor managers who can talk a blend of technical and nontechnical language. Too much talk about aspect ratio sips and cyclic hop to the wrong customer can make eyes glaze over. At the same time your willingness to explain what these terms mean in plain language can enhance the quality of a sale and indeed result in a “trade-up” to durable tires.

Don’t be afraid to talk the long-term benefits of steel-belted radials over the short-term benefits of polyester bias-ply tires. Most veterans of the trade agree that the significantly lower price of most bias ply tires is attractive to those on a budget but that in terms of length of mileage service and replacement cost bias ply tires cost significantly more in the long run. Also be up front about such facts as the one that half the snow tires sold in this country are retreads not new tires. Don’t think of this as something that will hurt your sales of new snow tires. On the contrary knowing and stating frankly that snow-tire retreads are perfectly acceptable to consumers and reliable on the road can vastly increase the volume of sales you have on snow-tires, well-heeled people who buy new snow tires are going to buy them anyway. And in this business volume is the name of the game.

You can readily see why strong knowledge of tires is essential for closing sales. To get your education in the business either spends some time, working for somebody who is already in the business or take advantage of the various seminar/training programs offered by rubber manufacturers and the NTDRA at their conventions. You may have to lay out $ 100 to $200 for an association-sponsored event but we believe it’s worth your time and money to take advantage of the marketing and merchandising education available from these sources. Tire trade associations are aggressive in keeping their affiliates informed about political decisions affecting the business as well as about technical innovations in tire manufacture and/or distribution. Membership in these organizations will buy you constantly state-of-the-art data along these lines.

Once you close the sale the customer is escorted to the checkout counter and the paperwork is all filled out. Credit cards account for as much as 70 percent of all tire sales. A good policy is to call for verification if the sale has exceeded the $75 floor limit. Also verify customer checks with Tele-check or similar services. You can’t afford the luxury of processing bad checks. Note in particular the tire serial numbers which must be recorded on the invoice and on post cards designed for that purpose and which are explained in more detail below. These numbers will be filled in last.

While the clerk at the counter is filling in customer information on all the services to be provided the salesman goes to the inventory shelves and pulls down the correct tires. He takes them to the shop and he or the clerk takes the shop paperwork there as well giving the customer any guarantee or warranty. Then he records serial numbers as required and assigns general service personnel to the installation on the customer’s car. The general service person signs off on the job and gives the customer his car and his invoice and guarantee copy. He stacks up service copies during the course of the day and at day’s end matches those against office copies making sure no one got out without paying. Installation of four tires on a typical car should take no more than 30 minutes, many experienced general service personnel take less time.


Take an active role in making sure the customer gets the tires he wants. Use common sense in making a sale and think of satisfactory use of the tires not as something separate from a sale but as the final part of it. In the past some major tire-and- rubber manufacturers would take absolutely no interest in the customer after the sale, if the customer got a flat on a new tire too bad. This attitude is changing in the face of increasing consumer awareness and willingness to act if something goes wrong.

There is a history in the tire business of manufacturers not honoring tire failure based on what are termed “road hazards.” That is if a tire failed because it was punctured say in a sidewall by a specific kind of rock or piece of glass not covered in the warranty the customer simply lost his money without adjustment or refund. In recent years tire adjustments have been made on tires damaged by road hazards. Additionally manufacturers have been compelled by government regulations to acknowledge structural flaws in tires and to issue a recall to replace or adjust such tires. This is the reasoning behind the Department of Transportation’s requirement that dealers record serial numbers of tires they sell and send them to the tire manufacturers. If a defect is detected it is a simple matter for manufacturers to notify those who have purchased specific tires of a recall.

In the past both independent tire dealers and dealers whose businesses were owned or controlled by a tire manufacturer were required to register tires sold to the consumer. A few years ago Congress modified these requirements for the independent dealers after a Congressional report showed that independent dealers registered only about 20 percent of the tires they sold. The so-called “final rule” to ensure that consumers are notified of tire recalls by improving the registration rate of tires purchased from independent dealers was issued in 1974 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The final rule applies to independent tire dealers and distributors. Tire dealerships and distributorships owned or controlled by tire manufacturers will continue to record all the necessary information of a tire sale on a registration form which is then returned to the manufacturer.

NHTSA’s only noteworthy change made by the final rule (as opposed to what was called the “interim rule”) is that the tire registration form is now required to be postcard sized. This allows tire purchasers to mail the form to the tire manufacturer after filling in name and address and adding postage.

The purpose is to give the consumer every incentive to return registration forms to the manufacturers. Consumers are urged by NHTSA to complete and return registration cards supplied by independent dealers. In the event a tire is recalled for safety reasons the manufacturer is able to mail direct notification of the recall only to those consumers who have registered their tires. Those who do not mail the forms cannot be notified directly of a defect and could continue to drive on tires which may be unsafe.

Independent dealers are required to fill in their name and address and the tire identification numbers on a registration form provided by the tire manufacturers. The form is then given to the purchaser who is free to fill in his name and address on the registration form adds postage and mail the form to the tire manufacturer. The name and address of the tire manufacturer must be preprinted or stamped on the registration form.

This is not the only aspect of service after the sale. Your ability to streamline service begins the moment you start looking for a supplier. When you make a deal with a company consider how well the supplier stands behind the warranty on his product. Also how will you be reimbursed for tires that you must adjust? If you are dealing in major-line tires as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) representative you may be adjusting tires that were not sold in your store that is one disadvantage of being a major dealer.

If a consumer comes to you looking for help on tires that aren’t wearing right or working right and if it turns out to be a non-tire problem such as vibration pulling or something that can be traced to improper original mounting he won’t expect to pay anything for diagnostics or for tire replacement. You do have a choice. You can be stuck with the job of remanding the complaint to the supplier and getting (eventually) reimbursed by him. Or you could jerk the customer from Akron to Seattle to Miami thereby losing for yourself and for the tire company the customer his friends, family and company as customers and your reputation. Choose to do the job and you lose time and perhaps money but you build a strong reputation for quality service that can have the effect of creating customers over the long term. Take your pick.

Assume for the moment that you offer service to the customer. This is what will typically happen. First off there will be more service involved in adjusting a tire than in making a sale and mounting new ones (30 minutes or so). You have to inspect the bad tire fill out adjustment papers then mount and balance a new one. After the customer is gone the administrative work really begins. You send back the bad tire to the supplier who will give you a refund plus very small allowance to take care of your service. You must monitor the accounting to make sure you get the proper credit for the tire and service.

Suppose the tire costs $40. If it was a no-charge replacement with a flaw in the first 25 percent of its tread you must be sure credit is given on the proper size and category of tire. Interestingly when you get the credit back from the rubber company it deducts 2 percent off the top for its service.