Tire Salesman – Jack Carter

He’s worked with American Tire Distributors for the last five years. It’s early August and we are sitting on the beach in Salisbury, Ma. He’s on vacation. He is reading The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Barry. He says it’s similar to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.

Tire Salesman

My job is to develop customers through sales of tires to new car dealers, which is the fastest growing tire sales segment in the United States. Most tire sales are down about 10 percent across the board. The increase used to be (through) mom and pops companies like Sullivan Tire, Town Fair, more tire stores, but they have been losing market share to car dealers and to big box stores like WalMart and Sam’s Club. What I do is, I go and I try and show the merits of keeping the customers from going other places to buy their tires, and buying them right from the dealer so the dealer’s not losing all the other business that goes along with the tires. The alignments, the maintenance items that typically people do where they get their tires. There’s a statistic out there, a national statistic because I’ve heard it in many different companies, that seven out of 10 people do the maintenance on their car where they buy their tires.

So new car dealers have this reputation of being expensive and the truth is their tire prices are just as good as everybody else’s and they have price match guarantee, and they have better technicians and better equipment, and I try to teach the people that that’s the merits of selling tires. So that’s kind of what I do. I go in there and kind of look at what they sell for tires, how they price it. I teach them pricing, I teach them how to sell tires, and I show them the merits of working with a national company. It’s called American Tire Distributors based out of North Carolina. We’re the largest tire distributor in the country; we’re the largest in Canada.

I deal with car dealers. We have three different segments; well, really four different segments. We have people that deal with the big box stores and companies like Monroe and those companies, and then we have people that deal with smaller mom and pops, like your local tire stores. And then we have another whole segment that deals with commercial tires. And then my section includes the car dealership. There’s 120 guys like me across the country. Ford and GM are our biggest customers because they have the most car dealers across the country. I think Ford is about 4,000, GM is somewhere around 6,000 when you count Buick, GMC, and other ones. How to sell tires, how to market, how to price. How to overcome adversity when a customer says well I can’t, well you know we have a price match guarantee, we’ll match or beat anybody’s price.

I like it. My favorite part is dealing with the people. I’ve been in the car business most of my life and a lot of the people I know or know of them, or they know of me, so a lot of times it’s going to hang out with friends and talking. And talking a little bit about tires. Don’t really get into Fantasy Football very much. We do talk sports, we talk about the Patriots, we talk about cars. We talk about family and business trends. But a lot of it’s just building relationships and helping them grow their business. That’s the idea is to help them grow their business; keep their customers going back to them and not to somebody else.

Most days I feel pretty good, because I make my own hours pretty much. It’s kind of like an 8 to 4 job, but if I have something to do and I can’t get there until 9, then I don’t get there until 9. If I want to start working at 7 and be done early I can. It’s very flexible. The company has a lot of incentives. Last year I won a trip to Miami for being in the top 10 of my division in the country and spent five days in Miami at a resort in South Beach, all expenses paid. I get to do fun stuff like play in golf tournaments for the company. And I am an avid golfer. I’m an avid one, I didn’t say I was a good one.

I think my experience in the tire business in the car dealer world is worth a lot because I do have a lot of experience. I spent 20 years on the retail side, so I know what it’s like. I worked for Bridgestone, Firestone and Sullivan Tire and I worked for three or four car dealers. I have a lot to offer.

Whose job is most important? That’s all up to the person who’s judging it. If I’m in a car accident and I’m waiting for the ambulance guy to come, to me that’s the most important job in the world at the time. I guess it all depends on the situation.

If I could do anything else, I would be one of two things. I’d be a professional golfer, or I’d be independently wealthy and hang around on the beach and play golf and travel the world. That would be it. At one point (as a kid) I wanted to be a race car driver. And I always thought I would want to build new homes—that was always something I thought about doing. I like to do stuff like that. I like to work on cars. Those are fun things I can do; those are typically hobbies.

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