Modern Tire Dealer

MAY 2019

Magazine for the professional tire industry

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41 w w w . M o d e r n T i r e D e a l e r . c o m street corners with heavy traffic volume. Both locations are also noticeably small. "e Stow store is around 3,500 square feet and the Cuyahoga Falls store is 5,500 square feet," he says. "Each store has 10 seats in the waiting room, and the waiting rooms are about 400 square feet. ere's not a square inch of open space." Leipold says he kept the stores small on purpose, focusing on efficiency and keeping fixed costs down. He played with the idea of doing an expansion in the past, but ultimately decided to rework the space instead to save money. "Around 2000 I had the plans drawn to double the size of the Cuyahoga Falls store for more service bays and more warehouse, and at the last minute I pulled the plug on the deal and I looked at ways to increase efficiency. We reduced our inventory and moved in three additional tire changing machines and one more balancing machine, and it kept our utilities and insurance and all of our fixed costs down." He took the savings from not doing the expansion and invested it into his employees. "Instead of putting money into buildings, we put money into our employees through bonuses," he says. "ey work hard and they earn it." Although the shops are small, they turn out quality work in similar volumes as their larger competitors. e Cuyahoga Falls store operates with five bays while the Stow location has six. "We have a new car scheduled every hour for the auto services," he says. "We do five to six cars an hour on the tire side, that's sales and tire repairs." ey take both walk-in customers as well as appointments. "Our appointment schedule is generally full, but we have it built in a way so we can fit in the walk-in service for most of the year," he explains. "November and December we have appointments scheduled as well as some walk-ins and we have a heavy amount of drop-off because of the weather." While the winter months are a busy time of year for tires, Leipold says not that many customers are buying snow tires like they used to. "Back in the '80s I did a huge volume of snow tires because a lot rear-wheel drive cars existed, but I haven't stocked snow tires in about five years," he explains. "We've got so many distributors that we can have them here the same day if I order them by 11 a.m. We let them carry the inventory and we take it when we need it. Most of our customers want all-weathers." KEEPING UP WITH DEMAND Another aspect of business that has changed dramatically for Leipold over the years is the way he buys tires from distributors. "I used to buy directly from the rubber companies in trailer loads, and I'd order one to two trailer loads a month and mix it up," he says. "However now, there are so many regional distributors that we have probably six Attention to detail is espe- cially important when cus- tomers come in for noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) issues. They can be a tricky problem for tire pros since several factors can cause NVH. At Leipold Tire Co., a two store operation based in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Vice President Andy Leipold says taking time to listen to the customer's complaint is the essential first step to identifying the problem. "They might say, 'It really shakes when I'm getting on the highway' or 'I hate these tires because they're so noisy' or 'Every time I hit a bump I feel like my car is falling apart.' Those are the three main complaints and from there we'll have to look and narrow down all of the causes." The root cause of NVH tends to be the lack of regular tire maintenance, says Leipold. One way Leipold Tire is able to help customers avoid NVH is- sues is through its regular tire maintenance program. "Anytime you purchase tires from us, rotation and balancing are included in the life of the tire. Obvious- ly were moving around the tires to even out the wear as far as mileage goes, but we're also watching for uneven wear, so if some- where along the line it does knock the alignment out, if you come in every 5,000 miles, we can catch it in time and get the alignment set before (NVH) becomes a problem." Preventing NVH problems before they happen While the winter months are a busy time of year for tires, Leipold says not that many customers are buying snow tires like they used to.

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