Craig Zinn Automotive Group expects to sell nearly 16,000 tires this year, or about 4,000 at each of its four stores in south Florida.
By comparison, dealerships participating last year in a tire program operated by Gulf States Toyota Inc. sold an average of 1,369 tires per store.
But Patrick Nasto, general manager of the Hollywood, Fla., group, wants more: "28,000 tires -- that is our goal for 2011."
Craig Zinn Automotive owns a Toyota-Scion store in Hollywood, Acura and Lexus deslerships in Pembroke Pines and a Lexus store in North Miami.
The Zinn group uses discount pricing and an incentive plan to motivate its service department employees to sell tires.
About 80 percent of Zinn's tire sales have been to owners who drive into the service department needing a repair under warranty or maybe an oil change. The remaining tires rolled out the door on certified used cars.
A driver entering the service department sees new tires on racks. Signs near the tires say, "We will meet all prices" or "Ask your service writer about the good, better, best tire program." A service writer checks each vehicle's tires.
Craig Zinn, president of the group, estimates that 70 to 80 percent of car owners end up at a tire store or other business for tire replacement.
"Once the customer goes somewhere else for tires, they are going for everything else," Zinn says.
But if an employee can generate a tire sale, he says, "We're going to get a front-end alignment; we're going to get a [tire] balance," brake work and other things.
And, Zinn suggests, perhaps gain a customer for the life of the vehicle.
The service writer tells the customer about the dealership's tire program, identified by the words "good," "better" or "best" -- three different tires with three different prices.
Says Nasto: "You have the customer who wants the $90 tire. You have the tire for the customer who wants the middle-grade tire -- let's say $120 -- and then you have the top-of-the-line tire."
Dealership personnel monitor tire pricing at national chains such as Costco and Firestone. The dealership's tires are priced $1 below Costco, Zinn says.
"We sell tires cheaper than they do," he says. "I do not care if we are losing" on tires because the tire sales can generate other service business, Zinn says.
Zinn takes a team approach; tire selling is not limited to the service writer.
Each team is composed of a service writer, assistant service writer and several technicians. Each team is given a sales target, and each member looks for worn tires on the vehicles they work on.
And what is the incentive to become the winning team?
Says Zinn: "The team that sells the most tires gets to go fishing on my boat in the Bahamas in August. And truthfully, if they all hit their numbers, they will all go fishing."