Modern Tire Dealer

APR 2019

Magazine for the professional tire industry

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Page 69 of 85

M T D A p r i l 2 0 1 9 68 F o c u s O n I n d u s t r y T here are more than five million hybrid vehicles on the road in the U.S., and many tire deal- ers aren't equipped to offer the battery and specialized services these vehicles need. e result: Dealers are missing out on revenue, profits and improved car counts. But Martin Kruszelnicki and Dave Crawford believe they have the solution to help dealers add those services to their existing tire businesses — a franchise opportunity with e Hybrid Shop Franchise Inc. Kruszelnicki took over e Hybrid Shop in 2017 as CEO with a goal of improving the model and the technology. He remanufactured batteries for more than a decade before he became the company's owner, and has surrounded himself with an all-star cast of experts. In late 2018 he hired Crawford as president and chief operating officer, along with Carey Mellor as vice president of sales, and together they're leading the charge to recruit dealers and expand the network. Crawford says those joining e Hybrid Shop now are on "the ground floor." Its remanufactured batteries include a three-year/100,000-mile warranty. All of its batteries will come with a computer chip, and the data collected from those chips will help e Hybrid Shop understand driving patterns to predict services before they're needed in the future. e Hybrid Shop is working with data company Preteckt to collect, study and create those battery projections. "Within 12 to 18 months we think we'll be able to do predictive modeling." e bolt-on business helps dealers service the entire hybrid drive system (hybrid battery packs, power inverters, DC to DC converters, hybrid controllers and electric components). ose repair tickets are on average higher than traditional combustible engine vehicles, and thus a generator of bigger profits, e Hybrid Shop says. And, since the typical hybrid and electric vehicle owner is more interested in energy-efficient technologies, it paves the way to selling other green services and products, including low rolling resistance tires. "I believe educating your customers will increase your profits," Crawford says. Under Kruszelnicki's ownership, the out-of-pocket expense to join e Hybrid Shop network is just a fraction of what it was under previous leadership — about $16,500 compared to $60,000. Here's what e Hybrid Shop program offers new franchisees: Training: ere's training for the owner, plus basic and advanced in-person training for technicians. e technicians learn hybrid and electric vehicle maintenance and repair at e Hybrid Shop's headquarters in Torrance, Calif. Tech support: e help includes a tablet that can diagnose any hybrid vehicle, plus there's online tech support and access to a tech support portal. Users can post questions or photos and get a response instantly. ere are also webinars and a library of resources available. Soware: A dedicated soware platform to help manage inventory and order parts. Marketing: ere's a dedicated dealer website, and exposure for dealers as e Hybrid Shop launches national marketing campaigns and exclusive campaigns. e Hybrid Shop website helps consumers search for and find local franchisees. Products: Remanufactured nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, upgraded lithium-based battery packs, plug-in conversions and other hybrid and electric vehicle components. Rich Hoffman, owner and president of Hoffman Tire Pros in Fayetteville, Ga., is among the original Hybrid Shop partners. Hoffman has owned his retail tire operation since 1976, and says he's not afraid of trying new things to improve his business. at's what attracted him to e Hybrid Shop concept a few years ago. Plus, he sees hybrid vehicles as the future, and thinks marketing Hoffman Tire Pros as an expert in hybrid repair will help him grab and hold more of that market. Hoffman does think e Hybrid Shop needs to market itself as it tries to grow. "We need to re-energize e Hybrid Shop brand, because we've lost some of that in the last couple of years." ■ Joy Kopcha By Hybrids: a path to profits and higher car counts THE HYBRID SHOP IS BACK AND LOOKING FOR TIRE DEALERS M a r t i n K r u s z e l n i c k i h a s partnered with well-known pacesetters in the hybrid and electric vehicle universe as he works to revitalize The Hybrid Shop network of dealers. Tom Gage is the CEO of EVGrid, and is credited with building the Tzero, an electric sports car that predates the Tesla. He introduced Elon Musk to engineer Martin Eberhard. (Fun fact: Gage is the brother- in-law of tire dealer Walt Deal- trey, CEO of Service Tire Truck Centers Inc.) Mark Saxonberg spent de- cades working for Toyota Mo- tor Sales USA Inc., focusing on alternative fuel vehicles and the environment. He's working on recruiting and training, and also focusing on performance standards. Yutaka Miyazaki is an in- vestor whose background is in commercial vehicles and fleets. He's anxious for the commercial industry to adapt to electrification and The Hy- brid Shop is planning for that expansion in the future. The all-star cast In 2017 Martin Kruszelnicki bought The Hybrid Shop after developing a better way to recondition batter- ies for hybrid vehicles and a less expensive way to add franchise partners. He says, "Servicing a battery pack is like changing the oil."

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