Frank Howard has built his business upon a solid foundation of honesty and integrity.
Taunton Tire is celebrating a major milestone this year. Located in Oshawa, Ontario this tire and wheel shop has been in business since 1971, making 2016 their 45th anniversary.
“The secret to our business is honesty,” says Frank Howard, owner of Taunton Tire. “If you educate the customer and you’re honest with them, they’ll keep coming back.”
Howard says he doesn’t want to compete on price. “There will always be places that will undercut our price, and not provide the quality or the customer service we do,” he explains, “so we don’t compete with them because we’re not willing to cut corners. We know what we have to do to generate enough business to make it in the market while offering top-notch service, and quality installations.”
Offering top-notch service begins with employee training. “One thing we pride ourselves on is the fact that all our staff is trained on all the products we sell,” Howard says. “You can ask them about any product we sell, and they’ll give you a thorough and honest assessment of that product, and they’ll tell you if it’s right for you.”
Top-notch service is also about choosing to carry and sell the brands and the product lines that Howard personally believes in. “As an independent tire dealer, I ask myself what’s the best product rather than what do I want to sell,” he explains. “I know a lot of dealers who believe that if they concentrate all their efforts on a certain line—if they buy 2,000 of a certain tire—they’ll get a better discount, and they’re going to push them on their customers. But that’s not the way we do business.”
Howard recalls how often he has seen customers come into his store with the wrong type of tire on their vehicles, or even the wrong size. “Someone told them that it would be fine and they sold them on it,” he says. “We’ve had customers come in, we’ve quoted them on the right product and the right tire size, and then they go down the street and buy something that’s completely wrong for their vehicle. But the point is, I am offering them a tire that I would personally drive on, not the lowest-end tire on the market.”
Honesty may be the best policy, but even Howard agrees that it’s not always the easiest way to do business. “There are positives and negatives about honesty,” he admits, “but that’s not something we’re willing to compromise on. We have standards, especially when we see someone pulling in with a baby seat in the back. Our consciences wouldn’t allow us to be less than honest, and we sometimes lose the sale because of our integrity.”
Generations of customers
Integrity and honesty certainly keep customers coming back, year after year, and generation after generation. “We have 45 years worth of loyal customers,” Howard says. “We have multiple generations of the same family coming to our store for their wheel and tire needs. I have customers coming in and sharing stories of their fathers and grandfathers buying tires from my dad, how they were brought in by their fathers to buy tires, and now they are bringing in their children for their first tire purchases. It’s great.”