Gallagher Tire Uses Web Portal to Grow Specialty Tire Sales
It’s probably safe to say that as a product segment, specialty tires are not normally associated with e-commerce — at least in the minds of most consumers.
But then again, specialty tire enthusiasts are not standard tire buyers, says J.P Gallagher, owner of Gallagher Tire, a specialty tire wholesale distributor based in Spring City, Pa. Gallagher Tire, he adds, is not your average tire dealership. And the company’s online tire buying portal, www.gallaghertire.com, isn’t your ordinary e-commerce site.
That’s wholly by design.
More end users are sourcing specialty tires from Gallagher Tire’s 11-year-old website than ever before. And a growing number of the 52-year-old firm’s 1,500 tire dealer customers are using the site to order products.
The result? Enhanced savings and efficiencies for both sets of clients. And Gallagher Tire is reaping similar benefits.
Top sales vehicle
“The original www.gallaghertire.com was launched in 2010,” says Gallagher. At the time, he thought the site had the potential to become “our number-one sales vehicle. It didn’t take long for that to happen.
“The site is directly linked to our data. Customers can log in, see inventory and see pricing.”
They also can filter selections by size, brand, rim diameter, ply rating and other criteria. “Someone who’s looking for that ST205/75R14 trailer tire can log right on and boom, there it is.”
Gallagher Tire’s wholesale customers have special log-ins that give them access to parts of the site that are off-limits to the public. “They can get personalized pricing and other bells and whistles.”
The site’s Tire University section is open to both groups of customers. It houses sell sheets, product comparison charts, fitment guides, catalogs and other documents.
Gallagher Tire, which has two distribution centers, incentivizes customers to buy products through the portal by providing discounts.
Gallagher admits the dealership “is still scratching the surface” in terms of optimizing its e-commerce capabilities.
“We’re working to put ourselves out there with search engine optimization, digital marketing and Google pay-per-click. We’re investing quite heavily, but my people also make the site what it is.”
Most of the company’s wholesale customers stock limited quantities of specialty tires at their locations.
“But we do have a number of dealers who will stock a week or two worth of inventory and will take advantage of volume discounts through our online portal. We incentivize those customers who are willing to help us fill our trucks on a daily basis.”
Selling specialty tires online has freed Gallagher Tire employees to work on other initiatives. And it has accelerated the sales process.
“When customers have questions, it doesn’t take them forever to get through to somebody by phone.”
‘Whole new levels’
Gallagher Tire stocks and sells a wide array of specialty tires — from ATV, lawn and garden and forklift tires to tires for boat, horse and landscape trailers.
“No one product group accounts for more than 13% of our total sales,” says Gallagher.
Specialty trailer tires have emerged as a fast-growing category for the company. “I think all-steel trailer tires have been the biggest change on that side of our business. We carry Carlisle brand and Gladiator brand all-steel products.
“The cost of all-steel tires has lowered to the point where putting them on trailers makes more sense. If you’re hauling around a $200,000 boat, do you really want to skimp on your trailer’s tires?”
Gallagher says landscaping companies are pushing the trailer tire business to “whole new levels,” as well.
“I see landscape trailers day in and day out. Even when they’re not mowing lawns, these companies are hauling skid steers around to do snow removal.”
Gallagher Tire has carved out another lucrative niche by selling pre-mounted trailer tire and wheel assemblies.
“We have the mounting equipment to do that. We offer our customers the ability to pick and choose.”
Many customers are “dressing up” their trailers by ordering special rims. “That expensive boat doesn’t look as good going down the road without those silver and black wheels.”
But not all customer requests result in a good fit, he says.
“One thing a lot of people don’t consider is that some standard trailer wheels will not handle the load they are expected to carry. We’re one of the few wholesalers around that’s been able to acquire a steady supply of heavy-duty wheels that can handle heavier loads.”
Like consumers in other segments, trailer tire customers spend a lot of time researching products online. But that doesn’t necessarily make them tire experts.
“A lot of times, they will have specific questions about a certain tire because they’ve been looking into it. Sometimes they’re trying to match what’s already on a specific piece of equipment.
“Our wholesale customers do a very good job of telling them, ‘I think you could upgrade to something else or you can change to another tread design and get better results.’”
Gallagher Tire employees share expert guidance, as well. “Just about everyone here has a significant background in specialty tires.”
Gallagher Tire is in the middle of its peak trailer tire selling season. “We usually see things ramp up in March and April — and more so for end users, who are taking a look at their equipment” that may have sat unused during the winter months.
In anticipation of its annual springtime sales surge, the dealership pushes special pricing to its wholesale customers in January and February “so they’re prepared when a landscaper comes in and says, ‘Hey, I need to get my equipment ready.’
“Hopefully, we won’t have any issues like we did last April when COVID-19 kind of turned off the spigot on our trailer tire sales.” (The dry spell didn’t last long. Gallagher Tire’s sales rebounded in May 2020 and “went full-throttle in June, when we had a record month.”)
Since a fairly large percentage of Gallagher Tire’s specialty tire inventory comes from Asia, he also is monitoring the ongoing, transpacific shipment slowdown, as well as freight rates, which spiked during the beginning of 2021.
“The ports are jam-packed. It’s been a challenge for some manufacturers to get us products.
“We have to be aware that lead times are going to be significantly longer” than in the past.
“Instead of 90 days, I’m looking at 180 days, in some cases.”
Gallagher says this makes forecasting extra-tough. (“I’m bald for a reason,” he says with a laugh.)
Inventory management will continue to play a critical role, he explains. “We utilize our own internal product groups. For example, we break skid steer tires down into two different categories. We also do bias trailer tires on one side and radial trailer tires on the other.
“In total, we have about 20 different product groups. Some overlap, but the more we can break our product portfolio down, the better the data we can get on the back-end.”
It takes “the right mix” of inventory, service, personnel and technology to sell specialty tires profitably, says Gallagher. “Keeping up with all of those things has been the key to our growth.”