Black Circles: playing a supporting role
Black Circles is using the Internet as a tool to market tyres in what is a unique route to market. Black Circles is a rapidly growing Internet and mail order tyre operation that carries very little stock and has no in-house retail outlets or warehouses to speak of. It takes on the cost to sell tyres and pays its fitter partners in advance. It offers everyone a better deal from the client buying the tyre, to the retailer getting paid in advance and taking a greater margin. Even the UK tyre wholesalers and manufacturers win for Black Circles has a policy of supporting local suppliers who can offer them repeated standards of high service.
Whilst most tyre purchases remain distress purchases, Black Circles recognise that there is a growing sector of the market where planned replacement of tyres is the norm. Where performance is the key requirement, and we all know that means sales of UHP and higher margin tyres.
Which is where we come to Michael Welch’s Black Circles – the Internet tyre supplier. In actual fact it isn’t quite correct to call Black Circles an Internet Tyre supplier, for the business is as likely to be carried out on the telephone as it is over the Internet. Perhaps a better description would be a remote tyre supply service. People call or use the Internet to request information, obtain a quote, and book a fitting for their tyres.
Now, this is where things start to get interesting. A number of players in the tyre market hold the traditional view that if you don’t buy your tyre from them, they either don’t fit it, or they charge you a premium for fitting the tyre. Which is in some respects short sighted.
Let’s look at this from a consumer’s point of view. He has decided to buy a pair of, or a set of tyres. He has chosen the brand, the size, the pattern and agreed a price. He knows that wherever he goes to collect his tyres they will be what he wants. He books a fitting time and in due course arrives at the appointed time, whereupon the dealer mounts and balances his tyres and sends him merrily on his way. Exeunt one very happy customer.
At this stage in the process the retailer is also a very happy customer because he has gained from the business without having to worry about ordering, about the customer not paying or not arriving, and what is more, he was paid for the job before the client brought his car in.
Let’s look at that from a traditional point of view. The customer wants a set of tyres for a BMW M5 – he has to call in, find out that the retailer doesn’t hold stock of the two sizes required, he has to have them ordered, perhaps pay a deposit, and then return when the tyres are in stock – perhaps the next day. Not an ideal scenario for the client.