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Space, Specifics and Software

Carla Lindsay, Owner/Operator, OK Tire St. George. Photo: Ok Tire

These three factors are key to success for winter storage.  

In a typical winter season, Carla Lindsay, Owner of OK Tire in St. George, near Brantford, Ont., stores about 3,500 tires.

“I keep the regular tires in a Quonset,” she explains. But the nicer tires, with alloy wheels, go in a container with a wooden floor and steel sides. “They’re stacked neatly and locked up so it’s secure.”

She uses COSTAR, an industry software, for a variety of functions. “For every vehicle that pulls into my bays, there’s an inspection sheet that goes with the tech,” says Lindsay. “When we do the tire storage on an invoice, we note the tread depth immediately and irregular wear, that type of thing. That’s handed to the customer.” Often, customers will think their tires are in good shape, even when they’re told the year before that they need replacing. “It’s good to document each tire and also the condition that tire is in.”

Tire storage is a must, since it’s convenient for her customers. “Often they just don’t have the strength or the space to store,” she says. “A lot of my customers have multiple vehicles for their children. Some families might have five cars.”

Storage report

Lindsay also services many fleets, like a Tim Horton Children’s Foundation fleet. “We store the tires for all their vehicles and it’s a lot of work to figure out which tire goes on which vehicle,” she says. When a customer stores tires, the COSTAR system provides an invoice, and also a tire storage report. “It has labels with the customer’s license plate, vehicle document number, tire size, tread depth. Then we cut it in four and a piece is affixed to each tire.”

More Canadian consumers are choosing to prioritize safety and better grip, going with two sets of tires. That’s going to be a particular challenge with the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time in years, many Canadian snowbirds will be staying put and need winter tires. “It’s going to drive up the demand and the interest in being safe this winter,” says Kristi Dubeau, General Manager of Marketing, Fountain Tire.  She recalls hearing about a retailer who was already having trouble keeping snowblowers in stock in October!

Kristi Dubeau, General Manager of Marketing, Fountain Tire Photo: Fountain Tire

“We’ve done some good planning, so we’re in fairly good shape with our winter tire stock,” Dubeau says. “Our stores have the ability to properly catalogue tires in our ERP system, so they get tracked and understand the condition of the tires.”

It’s also crucial to physically mark the tires, identify them and put them away so that they’re easy to retrieve, so staff can be as productive as possible. “There’s good tracking needed electronically, and then very practical organization storage.”

Tire bags

When tires are returned to the customer, they’re always in a tire bag. “If your service provider is returning a dirty tire to you, not only is it heavy, but you have to find a way to get it to where it needs to be, without getting your own clothes stained,” says Dubeau. “Putting tires in bags also means our storage areas are cleaner, and tires are easier to label and find.”

And even though the pandemic has affected different areas of Canada in various ways, Tony Beck, Vice President of Logistics and Distribution at OK Tire, believes it will change tire buying habits. “People who traditionally would have bought a Tier 1 and Tier 2 tire, because of the unemployment and economic uncertainty, will bring them down to a Tier 3 or Tier 4, lower-end tire,” he says. “We’ve really front-loaded on those tires this season.”

He believes sales will be strong and has already seen it in the lower tier product. “If people are staying home, they don’t want to go spending the big dollars on a high-end tire product,” says Beck.

It’s another reason to ensure procurement of inventory is as laser-focused as possible. “You’ve got to match your capacity to your inventory so you don’t have a huge glut,” says Beck.

Proper storage

Jack Benzacar, CEO of Tire Butler, insists that tires are stored properly. “Tires on rims should not be placed on racks in a vertical position,” he says. “They need to be stacked horizontally on top of one another.” Tires that are not on rims are stacked on racks. “Anything on a rim needs to be stored horizontally and anything not on a rim needs to be stored vertically. That’s right from any of the tire companies like Michelin or Continental.”

He doesn’t approve of storing tires in shipping containers outdoors. “We charge a competitive rate for storage, and we have a building that is alarmed, with heating and fire suppression systems,” says Benzacar. “It’s got everything that you need and we’re charging a fair price for that.”

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