November '15

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8 The Shop November 2015 P rofessionals might think there's not much to worry about when it comes to offering wheels and tires. After all, they are among the first things purchased when an owner takes on customizing their ride. Laughingly referred to as the "gateway drug" to drivers becoming fully addicted to building their car, wheels and tires are easy to install, make a big difference in the car or truck's looks, and are usually afford- able when compared to bigger upgrades. But, like every other aspect of our busi- ness, there are indeed challenges to con- sider—as well as opportunities to exploit. So we sought out some big wheels in the industry to talk about adding wheel and tire service to a business, knowing the related markets, and realizing the potential for add-on sales. CHALLENGES When it comes to the single biggest chal- lenge shops face when offering wheel and tire packages to their customers, it often comes down to what you know—or don't know. Finding Proper Fitment David Schardt, president of Forgeline Motorsports, says a proper knowledge of fitments is the first challenge that comes to mind for many aftermarket retailers. "Most car makes have different specifica- tions such as bolt pattern, diameter, width and offset. Brake caliper clearance is also a problem in high-performance cars with large or aftermarket brakes," he explains. "Stay with a reputable wheel company that specializes in a certain car or can help determine which wheels fit correctly. Most cast wheel brands have a one-wheel-fits-all mentality. While others like Forgeline make wheels to fit each application, based on a fitment sheet or other required informa- tion." Chris Bovis, vice president of marketing of WELD Racing, references two possible sources of distress: value proposition and market confusion. "There are a lot of wheels on the market from many different sources. The after- market offers wheels that range in price from $99 to $10,000, plus with words like cast, flow formed, rotary flow forged and forged. Each material and manufacturing process will carry its own price point and its own value proposition," he explains. "Educating the customer can become very difficult, as each company uses its own language and terminology." Therefore, education is critical—espe- cially, he says, because there is no regulatory agency that covers aftermarket wheels. "Educating customers is critical to ensure that they purchase wheels that will meet their expectations and perform well on their vehicle. There are recommended test criteria, but currently there is no agency to file the results with or provide approval. The integrity of the material, design, testing and quality standards are impor- tant, but often overlooked." 8 The Shop November 2015 New wheel and tire installations can lead to add-on sales and increased labor. (Photo courtesy Coker Tire) Get Rolling By John Carollo Challenges & opportunities in the wheels & tires market.

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