Modern Tire Dealer

FEB 2019

Magazine for the professional tire industry

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M T D F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 9 42 the truck service, I did the tire repair, I did the truck repair. I kept my sales clothes in my vehicle and sometimes I didn't make it home for three days." Sylvester initially worked out of his service vehicle and had his inventory delivered to a farm field in neighboring Avon Lake. "I rented a spot from a farmer, and I parked my vehicles there and I had my inventory delivered to me there. ey rolled the tires out into the mud and snow and that's where they landed." He eventually rented a building, grew some large accounts and saved enough money to purchase a building in a nearby industrial park. "en we grew out of that and I purchased the property here where we are now," he says. e building took three years to construct and is separated into two wings — the truck- ing side and the auto tire and service side. e middle of the building houses his office as well as the sales and accounting staff. "From my office I can see both shops. at was part of the vision and the design," he explains. "I used to sketch the building when I worked at Leaseway." TOP-NOTCH TECHS Sylvester has nearly 30 employees including himself and his wife, Rhea, who has been with him from day one. She now runs the front office. Sylvester's son-in-law, Jason, also works in the office part-time. Whether it's a new technician, salesperson or someone in the front office, Sylvester says he looks for a positive attitude and good attendance when hiring someone. "I know their qualifications when I interview them. at's why they're here. But when they're sitting in the seat and I interview them, it's all about attitude. When we bring them in we put them through a six-month training program before we let them go on their own." Sylvester has a mix of younger employees as well as employees who have been with him for more than 20 years. He tends to have a harder time training and retaining the younger generation. "e younger generation has a hard time taking direction and taking constructive criticism," he says. "eir attendance stinks, but once we work through that, it's all about building responsibility. eir pay reflects their responsibility. Within a year we usually have a decent employee." He uses a mix of platforms to attract new employees, including online ads, word- of-mouth and occasionally contacting the local tech schools. "I've utilized all of the tech schools in the past, but they're not my favorite place to go," he explains. "My issue with tech schools is that the students are taught that they're going to make $37 an hour to start and that's not reality, and they have a hard time with that." When he does find a good employee, Sylvester says he does what he can to keep them around. "It's hard to find people, let alone qualified people," he says. "at's an expense that we pick up every day in training... hoping they stay with us. I let them know that I'm here and if they need to exit for something else, then we need to talk. We stress that." BUILDING CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS Building a successful business doesn't happen overnight. One of the ways Sylvester has built his success is by building strong relationships with customers. Whether it's someone with a single truck or a corporation with a fleet of trucks, Sylvester values every account. "It's all about relationships and good quality service and a fair price," he says. On the truck side, Sylvester's top salesman, Mark Carpenter, has been with him for 20 years and handles fleet accounts. "He not only sells the tire brands that we sell, but he also sells our service and that, of course, helps him in his sales because they utilize the tire service and everything else that we offer," Sylvester says. About three-and-a-half years ago, John Bishop joined the business to handle com- mercial tire sales and Fuso truck sales. "He was with Continental General for years out in the Dakotas," Sylvester says. "He's doing a good job for us." Sylvester's has built a reputation of provid- ing quick, reliable service, and a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to make sure customers are 100% satisfied. Sylvester says having a one-on-one relationship is key to keeping customers from seeking out your competitors. "is building has been here 21 years, and we counted not too long ago that there's 36 competitors who have moved into my immediate area, within a four-mile radius, that do some type of my business — retail, truck, off-road, leasing, rental business or towing." S y l v e s t e r T r u c k a n d T i r e S e r v i c e Clockwise from top left: Sylvester Truck and Tire Service technician Joe Bury fin- ishes an oil change; Dale Hassel does metal fabrication work on a truck's service bed; Mike McMath concentrates while per- forming engine diagnostic work; and Car- son Hancock balances a light truck tire.

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