Which came first, the car or the tires? The answer is pretty obvious, but when you think about it, how would cars move an inch without them? Owning a tire business in the 21st century means you’ll be providing a product that most people can’t live without, but half the trick of succeeding is dealing with competitors. Can you offer something the big boys don’t? You can if you remember that small businesses give shoppers the personal touch that conglomerates can’t, so if you give every customer value and excellent customer service, your business will be poised to go the distance in the future.
Write a business plan for your tire shop so you know where you’re heading. Draft a list of equipment, supplies and materials you’ll need to start your enterprise from scratch so lending institutions know you’ve thoughtfully covered all bases. Purchase a computer system and an easy-to-use software accounting package. Seek advice from those already in the business for tips to keep your business in the black.
Apply for a business loan. Seek cash locally if you have good relationships with area lending institutions or turn to nonprofits looking to help start new businesses. Investigate venture capitalism sources if you don’t mind having people overseeing your business so they can keep an eye on the money they’ve loaned you. Convince lenders that you have what it takes to run a tire shop business by outlining your work experience, schooling and background when you apply for funds.
Find the right location for your shop, preferably an area with plenty of commercial traffic. Determine square footage and build-out requirements if you’re starting from scratch and outfit the location with service bays and a sales center. Alternately, search for an existing tire business currently on the market (find link below) if you’d prefer a turnkey operation that already has equipment, supplies and materials (and often inventory) included in the transaction. Negotiate with the retiring owner for their customer list as part of the deal.
Choose from domestic and international rubber tire manufacturers to line up suppliers. Consider familiar brands like Goodyear®, Uniroyal®, Dunlop®, Firestone®, Goodrich® and Michelin®. Investigate private label tires, too. Affiliate with multiple manufacturers to give customers an array of product choices. Ask about each company’s retailer support programs to take advantage of free signage, technical help, marketing assistance and co-op ad programs packaged to engender retailer loyalty and purchases.
Become familiar with the tire retailing industry to keep abreast of trends and changes in materials, engineering, marketing and business practices. Affiliate with a nonprofit dedicated to serving retail tire businessmen and women and read trade publications (find a link to one below) to stay in the know. Turn to these entities for advanced training in all facets of the tire retail business, so once you’re up and running, you’re not just a business but also an expert on the subject.