Big O Tires Franchise Review: Q&A with Dutch Tryon
Dutch Tryon, owner of two Big O Tires franchises in eastern Kansas, is recognized for his knowledge, expertise and dedication
Dutch Tryon was recently recognized by Big O Tires as the winner of the 2014 Point of Light Award. The award recognizes franchise owners who have contributed to our organization with their knowledge, expertise and dedication.
Dutch owns two stores in Topeka and Lawrence, Kansas, and he is looking to expand to the Kansas City market. He is a point man for selected franchisee candidates.
What were you doing before Big O?
I was the vice president for a major tire retailer. Prior to that, I was an executive for another tire manufacturer and retailer. I was at a point in my life where I was tired of working for a corporation. With big companies you can become a robot without utilizing your creativity and ability, but I am a get-it-done type of guy.
How did you find out about Big O?
I found out about Big O when I was with Tires Plus, where we also had a franchise system with 60 franchisees. My counterpart, who sold the franchise system, ended up working with Big O. He introduced me to Big O, and I inquired about a franchise. He piqued my interest, and I began looking at locations.
My family grew up south of Topeka, but I was living in Minneapolis. My mother’s health was failing, so I bought an independent dealership in Topeka and converted it to a Big O. This was a homecoming for me.
What do you like about being a franchisee with Big O?
I wanted to be a part of something bigger. Anybody can be a mom-and-pop operation, but if you want to compete with the big boys, then it’s best to partner with a franchise that has systems, processes, point of purchase, marketing, training and standards in place. Partnering with Big O was a great choice for me, and I would recommend it to anybody.
I also like getting to know my peers throughout the country. We are learning and growing together through our local dealer meetings, national conventions and different committees.
I also enjoy working with my wife.
How large is the opportunity?
I think it’s very big. Big O is growing. Your ability to make a great income is greater with Big O. It isn’t easy, though, and you get out what you put into it.
How important is previous automotive experience for a Big O Tires owner?
There are successful franchise owners with no automotive experience, but in today’s changing and challenging world, I would recommend having past experience. Vehicles and systems are getting more complex every year, so having knowledge will help you, especially in the beginning. I don’t think I would’ve been successful had I not had my past automotive experience and leadership roles.
What attracts customers to Big O Tires over our competitors?
There are four main things. The first is having quality people who are knowledgeable and friendly. I get told all the time how friendly and helpful my staff is, and that’s rewarding. The second is being a true multi-brand tire store, able to offer many different types of tires from entry-level, low-cost tires to top-of-the-line Michelin brand. The third is our own Big O brand of tires with an industry-leading warranty, all made in America. And the fourth is being a full automotive and service provider, a true one-stop shop for our customers.
What does your typical day look like?
It starts early. Before we open, we are posting our daily numbers, reviewing our goals — hence the appointment schedule — and aligning and merchandising. Once the store opens it’s all about the customer, providing outstanding customer service, thus separating us from our competitors.
What is a secret to your success?
My team — I try to develop my team to be knowledgeable about the industry. We are well-known in Topeka as the one of the only places that will have any product. We carry about 2,600 tires in Topeka and 1,600 in Lawrence. I think 600 is the average in other stores in our area.
In order to be a big player, we have to understand that people want things now. I built a 20,000-cubic-foot warehouse. With that we can have the right-sized tire, right now. We did significant facility improvements. We took our existing warehouse and converted it into four bays. We’re now a 10-bay store.
I’m a firm believer that you have to put money back into your business. We have to have the right technology and state-of-the art-equipment. We invest on a regular basis. My guys know I don’t skimp in that area.
In what ways do you contribute to Big O Tires?
I’ve always been a brand promoter. I am on the Board of Directors, the IT Committee that develops the point-of-sale software and the Best Practice Committee. I’ve given presentations to franchise owner groups and in every franchise owners meeting in our region. In the past I’ve leaned on my background and knowledge of the industry. I’ve been actively involved with tire sizing and quality. I’ve worked with management at the TBC Corporation, one of North America’s largest marketers of automotive replacement tires, on products and sizes. There are more than 550 tire sizes in North America, so managing that is a pretty big task. I’m very vocal, open and involved.
What does franchise ownership allow you to do that you couldn’t before?
It gives me freedom and flexibility. I work hard. I always have. I have the ability to make my own decisions while providing a quality place to work.
I help my associates grow. One of the most rewarding things is watching them develop and grow.
Personally, I can grow professionally and financially with Big O.
Would you recommend a Big O Tires franchise to someone?
I would most definitely recommend it. It can be rewarding professionally and financially if approached and worked successfully. Owning a store is not easy, but I have completely replaced my salary as an owner, and then some.
There are people who let things happen and there are others who make things happen. People who are truly successful are the ones who make things happen. That’s why I’ve gotten involved so much with Big O and participate on so many committees. If you step up as a leader and show you’re going to better the organization, then people want you representing them.