By any definition of the word, RNR Tire Express is an unbounded success story.
RNR (which stands for “Rent N Roll”) opened its first store in 1999. It will open its 100th store by mid-March of this year.
Traction News spoke with owner Larry Sutton to find out the secret to his success.
First, a little bit of background on RNR
The company’s basic business model is to provide consumers with quality tires and wheels with easy payments and financing options with no credit requirements.
RNR’s basic services include custom wheels, tires and alignments, but Sutton has franchisees in the Carolinas who also offer full suspension services. Some franchisees in other locations offer brake services.
Sutton has taken a somewhat hands-off approach to dealing with individual dealers/franchisees insofar as the products and services they offer are concerned. But before putting a new product or service on the “menu” of standard services offered system-wide, Sutton says they take a long, hard look at the product or service to ensure that it delivers value to the customer, the franchisee and the company — in that order.
RNR has grown remarkably quickly since 1999
RNR started with a single store in the Tampa, Florida, area in 1999, with just a handful of employees. Today there are 93 stores in 23 states, with some 600 employees, and new stores are under construction in Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas and Florida.
Sutton said those stores are set to open between the end of February and mid-March — but which store gets to hang that magic “100th Store” on itself is still up in the air. All nine stores currently under construction are at approximately the same stage of development.
“To be honest, it’s going to be a race to see which store is number 100,” he said.
Sutton talks about his company’s success
RNR has a two-pronged strategy for growth. They get most of their growth from current franchisees who sign contracts for more stores and a larger service area.
“We’ve got several franchisees who have come back and renegotiated larger development territories and bigger footprints,” he said. “So, internally, (growth) would be through current franchisees signing up for more locations.”
He said RNR also opens up some corporate stores on a regular basis to provide coverage to new areas and he actively seeks new franchisees in areas where they currently don’t have any.
Sutton says that the company’s biggest challenge to future growth is getting reliable people to staff the stores who will learn and embrace the company’s culture and then grow with the company. This, he said, is because RNR operates in a niche — offering not just tires and wheels but affordable payment and easy credit options.
Keep an open mind and try new things
Sutton said in growing his company the biggest lesson has been becoming as good a listener as he is a teller — “if not better.” He said he has had to learn that sometimes the franchisee is going to be the person with the idea that helps grow or expand the business.
“We’ve got a lot of good minds out there that come onboard as franchisees who bring new ideas to the table. Those ideas are the ones that get driven to success. They sometimes end up being some of the best things that we’ve done.
“You know, we’ve rebranded our company on a few occasions to get where we are today and that’s largely because someone came up with an idea that we allowed them to run with and it works. Keep an open mind to try new things.”
After opening 14 stores in 2016 and with nine under construction right now, Sutton shows no signs of slowing down.
“We have plans for 35 (stores) scheduled to open in 2017,” he said. “We expect that number to grow more and more every year because we have more and more franchisees coming aboard all the time and as the guys get better at opening them, they get a little quicker.”
RNR provides impressive marketing support for franchisees
RNR has a full-service marketing department staffed by nine people who come up with TV, radio and creative spots they provide to the franchisees. The franchisee just has to pay for the local air time for these campaigns.
Sutton said RNR also has a “powerful website that helps (franchisees) grow their business” and provides everything the franchisee needs in the way of forms and business administration needs. The company also has field people who go around the country and stay in touch with franchisees after they’ve finished their training.
Sutton says that hands down, their number one tire in sales volume across the country is Nexen. “They’ve got the best warranty, the price is great, and it’s a great tire.”
Consumer Reports recently ranked it second right behind Michelin.
“We think for value, for a quality tire for the right price, the best warranty in the business, Nexen is our number one seller,” said Sutton.
For more information about RNR, check out the RNR Tire Express website.