Dealer Tire is expanding an initiative that places its sales consultants in the service lanes of new-vehicle dealerships. These consultants sell tires directly to customers and train the dealerships' service advisers in tire sales.
The company's leaders, Scott and Dean Mueller, are reluctant to divulge many details about the program, which has been operating for several years.
Participating dealers pay Dealer Tire for the presence of the on-site retail expert, called a tire service adviser.
The amount that dealers pay varies, but decreases as tire sales increase. Some tire manufacturers subsidize the cost of the program.
Dave VandeLinde, the new director of service and parts operations at Hyundai Motor America, previously was service director of Kuni Lexus in Portland, Ore., which works with an on-site Dealer Tire adviser.
If a dealership's tire sales are low, VandeLinde said, it could cost $4,000 a month to keep the tire adviser in the service lane. But that cost could dip to $1,000 a month when sales are high, he added.
"It's got to pencil," VandeLinde said in an interview when he was still with Kuni Lexus. "It's not cheap."
Dealer Tire declined to comment on the program's pricing.
Kuni Lexus brought in the adviser to boost service customer retention, VandeLinde said: "He's really a specialist."
The Dealer Tire program also enables dealerships to make money on highly profitable spiffs sold with tires, such as alignments and tire care packages.