etyres successfully taps into the online market

At the forefront of online tyre retail, etyres has developed substantial centralised ordering for its franchisees. Derin Ibrahim reports

With an increasing number of people using the internet to buy products and services, many companies are recognising the importance of attracting online consumers. By making sure its visibility to search engines is second to none and building substantial online repeat business, etyres has successfully tapped into this market.

Oxfordshire franchisee Lorna Greenaway has seen the benefit of etyres' online presence. She reveals: 'The franchisor is dedicated to making sure that the etyres website is consistently ranked top of the league on all the search engines. The business also grows through reputation and word of mouth - we're always getting people calling us saying we've been recommended by a friend, family member or neighbour.'

Founded in 1992 and franchising since 1996 etyres initially started out selling tyres and batteries to companies in the contract hire, leasing and fleet management industries, however in 1997 etyres was able to extend its service to the general public through the internet. 'Our telephones are constantly ringing with new orders coming in - online tyre sales are booming,' says Tony Bowman, Managing Director of etyres. 'Even though we have over 70 franchisees across the country we still have some key areas available and are looking to fill these.'

In addition to its prominent online presence etyres attracts many customers with its low prices, sometimes saving customers up to 40 per cent. However, Tony explains, this does not affect the franchisees income. 'We keep our costs down as we don't have any of the overheads that traditional depots have, such as rents and rates. Instead franchisees work from vans and provide a mobile service - fitting tyres wherever it is convenient for the customer.'

The fact that etyres provides a mobile fitting service is an added bonus as it means that customers no longer have to waste time and effort going to their nearest depot and sit around waiting for the work to be done. Instead etyres fitters will go to the customer. 'Most of our franchisees start by fitting tyres themselves,' says Tony. 'Then once they've built up their business they usually employ someone else to go out to the customer to do the fittings.'

As part of the franchise package franchisees will receive training and support. Oliver Hall, joint franchisee for Milton Keynes and Luton & Dunstable, comments: 'We were very well prepared in terms of the technical aspect of running the business, having trained with one of the longer established units in Slough. Since our launch we've been one of the fastest growing new franchises, and having two territories gave us quite a lot to chew on at the beginning. However etyres has been very helpful, and we had head office staff with us early on to show us how to pitch to garages and get orders. We won two commercial customers in our first week who have been on board ever since and have become two of our biggest customers.

'As the commercial business built up we realised that it was an easy way of getting business, but not necessarily the provider of the best margins. In fact, selling to domestic customers produces higher revenue, so we are concentrating on getting more and more individual corporate clients and domestic customers. We win about 50 per cent of our business, with the other half coming through orders passed to us from the etyres website. It really is a big aspect of the business.'

This franchise will suit those with a strong ability to meet and communicate with customers as well as being practical and hard working. Having great communication skills is important as etyres has a strong emphasis on customer service. Tony explains: 'Customers are at the forefront of the business as I believe if the customer is not getting a good deal then the business is not going to succeed.'

With its strong online presence and dedication to customer satisfaction, etyres is a franchise that for the right person has the potential to be built into a very successful business.

How the system works:

etyres fitters carry out the tyre replacement when and where it suits the customer, at lunchtime or dinner time, at home or at work.

Because etyres does not have to fork out large overheads for expensive tyre depots, its lower operating costs mean the huge savings are passed on to customers. All the customer needs to do is log on to and follow the simple instructions to place an order (they just need to know the size of tyre they require or the make and model of the car) or call the etyres head office call centre.

The etyre website carries a vast selection of tyres, from top of the range brand names - including Bridgestone, Firestone, Pirelli, Continental and Michelin - to good quality mid-range and economy alternatives.

The internet business is building on the back of etyres' reputation as a market leader in the mobile tyre fitting industry. Over the last 15 years the company has built up an impressive client base and established accounts with the majority of the largest contract hire and leasing companies as well as dozens of smaller organisations in that field. They appreciate the company's ability to deliver a top quality service at acceptable prices.

Reported by Derin Ibrahim