A Customer-Focused Business Model
Eagle Tire Pros Location: Jacksboro, Tenn. Owner: Tony Johnson Average Monthly Car Count: 600 Staff Size: 7 Shop Size: 9 bays Annual Revenue: $1.5 million
The time was 5:15 p.m., well after Eagle Tire Pros’ closing time, when a customer in distress pulled up to the Jacksboro, Tenn., shop. But for COO Brandon Johnson, he didn’t even give those business hours a second thought. Instead, he instinctively went out and helped the customer with their vehicle problems.
Whether it’s during daytime hours or after, Johnson is there to provide reassurance and be a resource. It’s partly due to the philosophy his father, Tony, instilled when he opened the shop at age 19, partly the lessons he learned during his time in school studying for an MBA in management, and partly an innate desire to help customers.
When a customer visits during the day, Johnson speaks with a technician who details the answer back to him in simple terminology. From there, Johnson returns with a more straightforward answer that the customer can easily understand. In addition, Johnson has roles behind the screen where he manages the shop’s social media accounts and interacts with customers online. His shortage of technical knowledge allows him to relate directly to the customer and create an honest environment at the shop.
“I’m still really working on learning the mechanic side of it,” Johnson says. “Tires are something I’ve always been around, [but] I’m pretty much the only non-ASE-certified individual here.”
For Johnson, the ability to work with and improve the lives of customers has furthered his passion for working at Eagle Tire Pros.
I open and close our shop every day. As the chief operations officer (COO), I work with customers who visit, I look at budgets and forecasting for the shop, as well as use my digital marketing emphasis by managing our social media pages. I also handle all of our marketing, HR and work with fleet accounts. Since starting in the shop a year ago, we’ve gained more accounts and I’m extremely proud of it.
When I started at the shop, I had a vision for how we could keep growing. I wanted to build up our marketing and become a place that is known for more than just a local sports team sponsor. I was really involved in organizations in college, so I made sure our shop joined community organizations such as our local chamber of commerce (we’re now in the running for Business of the Year, too!). We encourage everyone to buy local, but this means we have to be a representative of our community and also keep our shop looking professional.
There’s also a lake nearby, so our community is really big on tourism—especially during the summer. When we do have new customers come in, we want them to have a positive takeaway at our shop and remember us next time they need assistance. My dad knows so much about the shop from a business standpoint and there is a lot I’ve had to learn along the way.
Throughout the day, though, you can find me in the front of the shop speaking with customers or informing technicians about our customers’ questions and concerns. Our shop is big on appointments and we use a point-of-sales system to help us stay organized. When a customer walks in, they are greeted by me or a member of our sales team and we try to create an open dialogue where all of their concerns are addressed. If they’re looking for tire advice, we help them. We focus on what our customer needs and avoid offering unnecessary services. We make sure we’re not taking advantage of our customer in a way that some shops have gotten in trouble for in the past. It’s important for all of our customers to be treated fairly.
The one thing that I really admire about my dad is how he treats customers. It’s a funny thing working for him; we are complete opposites, but we share the same belief: Customers deserve a smooth, hassle-free experience when they come into the shop. Coming from politics (which I worked in briefly), it wasn’t uncommon to give some people special treatment, which goes against everything we believe at the shop.
Our days are usually fast-paced and I love it. We have a camera system in our shop so we’re able to see more of what’s going on. The facility we work at is still fairly new and is what my dad would consider his dream shop. It’s neat because we’ve become a fresh face in our community. When my dad started the shop, it was a cinder block shop with one bay and no heating or cooling. Now every detail is accounted for and we have this big, clean, nice waiting room. There is a lot of pride around our shop, especially when it comes to our employees.
Throughout the day, I’m usually running around getting updates on what’s going on, checking to see if we got a certain part in, or congratulating our guys for finishing a job faster than expected. All of our technicians also eat lunch first before we worry about anything else. I eat with Tony, my dad, after everyone else each day. At work, he’s Tony. We try to make sure there’s no special treatment just because I’m the boss’s son. He calls all of the shots.
Having a master’s degree in business has helped me stay ahead in this industry. Before I was hired on full time, I used to handle the shop’s social media in college and have since pushed it way more. From my standpoint, I think shops need to take advantage of how social media can build their business. I can’t stress how important it is, especially for shops locally owned and operated. In order to stay competitive against bigger shops and companies, we have to stay active online and give our customers a place to go.
There really isn’t time in the day to plan social media, so I usually work on the marketing plan when I’m hanging out at home. We partner with companies like Rough Country to show followers how our business can customize their vehicles. Every week, we’ll have folks come in and let us know they saw our post and want the same service done to their car. Our social media has brought in new customers who come back for regular visits after, too. It’s really neat to see younger generations show an interest. If someone is treated right with good service, then you might become a shop they visit for generations.