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Costco, BJ’s Wal-Mart ,etc. a Factor in tire sales?


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We have a superwalmart in our town and I have gotten several repairs from things they messed up :) We have gone over and talked to the manager about sending us more work but they are technically not allowed to refer anyone ;)

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I’d like to say they don't sell to my customers but they do. Let’s face it they are there selling convenience and a perceived cheaper price. most are open all hours when we are closed. To most customers a tire is a tire and a battery is a battery... they have no idea what TPMS is and why we torque a wheel. All the major brands have all their signage and promotional material plastered up so you see it as you walk in their doors. Heck I felt like I wanted to put a set of tires on my truck the last time I was there with my wife shopping. This business is much different than when I started and we must adapt or lose. I never believed in coupons or sending direct mail or advertising because I did not need too but all of that has changed.

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My family actually sold the land my tire store of 28 years was located on to Walmart to build a superstore. We ended up building a new store right behind the Walmart. I can throw a baseball from my bays to their bays. Before the Walmart, my unit sales had stagnated at about 3800-3900 units per year. The first year with Walmart next door [2008] we sold 4500 units, a near 20% increase. Believe me, having the traffic that a superstore generates next door far overshadows any competition they bring. Plus, we've developed a good relationship with them and they send us alignments, brake work, etc, as well as the stuff they break and need repaired. Additionally, when they run into complicated tires issues, they send them our way. Their tire prices initially seem low until you add in lifetime balancing, flat repair and road hazard, all services we include in the cost of the tire.To be frank about it, I don't know how they sell anything anyway. I usually buy stuff in the store and check out at the tire and lube service counter. What I observe just causes me to chuckle. They never answer the phone. People sometimes wait at the counter for 5 or more minutes before anyone even comes back to the counter from the service area. And recently, they quit taking appointments for anything which means they are constantly backed up several hours because they are so slow in the bays. And to be totally honest, even as slow as my business has been for the last year and a half, I probably don't want most of those customers anyway.

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Great comments, I understand your frustration and agree that business today has changed. What are some of your ideas to compete with these changes?

Mainly we need to show how we are different from big box stores by the way we take care of our customers. Honesty still goes a long way along with personal service with a "thank you" and follow up call a day or so after we work on their car. We have remodeled our waiting room and have comfortable chairs with a gourmet coffee maker, wide screen cable TV, and Wi-Fi signal. We carefully schedule waiting appointments so they are convenient with their schedules. Have a loner car for those situations when a customer has a unexpected break down or when parts availability delay a repair. The list goes on but you will notice I never said cut price…..but try and make it a good value.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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