Modern Tire Dealer

JUN 2018

Magazine for the professional tire industry

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M T D J u n e 2 0 1 8 70 F o c u s o n I n d u s t r y B ig O Tires LLC is counting on a single word to help franchisees increase sales and improve the consumer experience inside its 449 stores. e word: "Yes!" "Tremendous opportunities can open up with that one little word," says John Kairys, vice president and general manager of Big O Tires. "When we say yes to customers, they say yes to us." Saying yes is more than a marketing line or advertising slogan, Kairys says. It requires owners and managers to consider everything from reviewing if a store is properly staffed and open the best hours for service, to studying whether a store creates an inviting environment. In 2018 Big O Tires, a division of TBC Corp., is rolling out new tools to help its franchisees say yes to consumers. ere's a tool from Marchex Inc. that allows stores to monitor and review customer phone calls. Primary and secondary credit options help consumers with all financial backgrounds pay for the tires and services their vehicles need. Big O Tires also will unleash a refreshed consumer-facing website this fall. e new site will have the capability to sell tires online to consumers, though Brant Wilson, president of TBC's franchise group, says it's undetermined when, or if, the company will flip that switch. "We have the capability. We're creating the strategy." Wilson says the company's current system, which offers the ability to shop for tires and make installation appointments online, is the key. When Big O Tires contacts consumers within 30 minutes of them making an appointment online, Wilson says 85% of those invoices match the dollar amount of the online ticket. "We feel good about that being an important component." e company expects all of those tools will help it record $800 million in total sales in 2018, and hopefully extend its record of consecutive year sales increases. Kim McBee, vice president of marketing and advertising for Big O Tires, says 2017 was the fih straight year of improved sales. Big O Tires wants to extend its reach in new stores, as well as retention of existing franchises. In 2018 the goal is to open 25 new locations, and renew 90% of the 28 franchise agreements up for review. Kairys says the company already has tentatively secured one-third of the new-store goal. New-store openings were a big part of the Big O Tires story in 2017. In November franchisee Mark Rhee bought 44 NTB Tire & Service Center locations in Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri from TBC and is rebranding them to Big O Tires stores. That deal helped Big O Tires have a "record-breaking" year, Kairys says. Fifty-seven new stores opened, giving the company 449 stores in 23 states. By the end of 2017 Big O Tires had crossed into four new states — Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and Minnesota. e existing stores did their part, too. Same-store sales were up 3.5% in 2017, and the company hopes to achieve that same result again this year. Same stores fell a bit short in one cat- egory, though. e goal was to increase alignment sales by 20% in 2017, but the group grew the alignment category by 16%. (e goal is to hit that 20% increase in 2018.) Wilson says the Big O Tires team helped save 10 stores last year, some of which were in danger of losing leases. In all, the franchise lost five stores overall. Wilson says it's the fewest number of stores lost since 1996. ■ BIG O TIRES Joy Kopcha By aims for $800 million in sales in 2018 NEW WEBSITE WILL HAVE ONLINE SALES CAPABILITY Les and Tina Foster, owners of a Big O Tires store in Gardner, Kan., talk to Chris Schaible, a field sales manager for Continental Tire the Americas LLC, about the tread on a General Grabber tire during the trade show. One path to sales growth for Big O Tires LLC is paved with multiple credit options for consumers. Data from Big O Tires credit card pur- chases shows users make double the number of transactions in a year compared to those who pay cash or use their own bank card. And the average ticket paid with a Big O Tires card is $504, compared to the $180 consumers spend when paying with cash or another credit card. The card carries an interest rate of 29.99%, but purchases are also interest-free if paid off within six months. Big O Tires says 83% of consumers pay off their purchases within that zero-interest time frame. The company also is promoting the merits of second-tier financing options to its franchisees. Big O Tires dealer Jerry Tidwell, who was profiled in Modern Tire Dealer's March cover story on secondary credit, pitches the option to every consumer. In 2017 he recorded $1 million in sales financed through Snap Finance LLC, and Tidwell told Big O Tires dealers at the 2018 convention that Snap financing "has blown up" his store's buy-two, get-two tires promo- tions. "We're signing 20 Snaps a day" during those events, he says. Credit boosts business

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