Tyrelife Solutions set to Revolutionise Trading Platform. In 2012 Georg Schramm took up an opportunity to become exclusive distributor to the American-based Cooper 4×4 tyre brand – now part of the Goodyear stable. Due to his long involvement with the manufacturing sector, in particular Dunlop which at the time had the rights to distribute Cooper in South Africa, Schramm had gained first-hand knowledge of the brand and its unique off-the-road capabilities. The brand of choice for Kingsley Holgate, who has pioneered countless expeditions into Africa on humanitarian causes, Cooper had proved its mettle repeatedly courtesy of its rugged construction, durability, and mileage properties.
Fast-forward to 2022. Georg and his team have grown the business – which now trades under Tyrelife Solutions – to include a complete range of 4×4, SUV and passenger-car products including Mickey Thompson, Momo and Dirty Life Wheels, to name a few. So, how did they get here and what is next for this dynamic business that has set its sights squarely on providing a superior, if not unorthodox, service offering to the dealer trade and consumer? We spoke with Georg to get the
Georg, why did you change the name of the business from Cooper Tyres Africa to Tyrelife Solutions?
As you rightly pointed out in your introduction, our product range has significantly expanded since the company’s inception in 2012 to include additional brands and wheels alongside Cooper. Therefore, continuing to trade under the Cooper Tyres name would have been misleading and unrepresentative of our complete service offering.
The decision to adopt the name Tyrelife Solutions indicates our clear intention to provide our customers with solutions to their business that beyond just products. In short, we are a ‘solutions-driven business.
Georg, how do you believe TyreLife Solutions can add to shaping the industry?
We have a serious and sustainable valueadd proposition to make to the industry. This is based on our manufacturing and technical background plus the priceless knowledge shared with our international shareholder partner who has operated in similar conditions in Australia for the last 30 years. They are the leading market player in that country.
Tell us more about the products and solutions you offer.
Aside from the Cooper and Mickey Thompson premium brands, we now also offer the Terrafirma and Patriot range of tyres, which provide the cash-strapped consumer with a great alternative from a price standpoint. Not everyone can afford premium products like Cooper or Mickey Thompson, especially under the current economic climate.
Where are these brands made and what recourse does the consumer have in the event of a claim?
The Patriot tyre brand is made in Thailand, while Terrafirma is a private brand developed in Australia and manufactured in China. We have gone to great lengths to source brands that are credible and fit for South African conditions and can therefore sell these products with complete confidence. All our products are sold with a manufacturing warranty and a protection plan warranty against road hazards, thereby providing the consumer with peace of mind. With every purchase made, the customer registers the purchase and receives communication relative to the mode of contact required.
This is a tyre based ‘motor plan’ and is designed to assist consumers to maintain their tyres as they would their vehicle. This benefits the consumer who will increase the tyre life and the dealer who extracts value for the after-sale service. In the event of a problem, the dealer, and Tyrelife Solutions, are there to assist. On our premium ranges, we also run a motor plan for every set of passenger, light truck or 4×4 tyres which runs on a c.p.k (cents per kilometer) basis.
This is a market-first, as far as I am aware. How exciting!
Yes, indeed. Various companies have run c.p.k programmes in the truck tyre sector in the past, but this has been a key to TyreLife Solutions customer retention strategy which is growing exponentially as consumers look for recourse and value for money.
How many dealers are now distributing your products?
We trade with independents and franchise groups throughout SADC and have coverage across the SADC region.
We believe you have a unique way of supplying your products to the dealers. Tell us about that.
If there is one positive to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, it would be the growth of the Digitalisation Age which dramatically changed how business was conducted and enabled us to remain in contact with service providers and customers virtually. During this time the growth in online searches increased to levels never seen
We have been actively establishing an innovative approach to tyre
distribution, even before Covid-19 struck, by embarking on a digital
transformation and creating a digital platform through which dealers and customers can source the right product and fitment partner via our online platform. Equally, they can obtain the right information with respect to tyre size, technology, and application.
Few consumers realise that a tyre is a safety-critical component, and
that any lowering of specifications on the tyre could affect their motor insurance validity. As an industry, we have a responsibility to the motoring public to ensure quality products are correctly specified
for the vehicle and application.
Coming from a manufacturing and technical background we see ourselves as complementing our knowledge with that of the dealer, stimulating a value proposition ahead of price.
So how would a prospective dealer go about joining your programme?
First, let me reiterate, “we are not competing with retail.” We are offering retailers the opportunity to supply a service for those early adopters who want to purchase online and, of course, this group is growing.
Due to high development and marketing costs, this market would be difficult for dealers to reach. In partnering with TyreLife Solutions, dealers are catering to this tech-savvy group without having to make the development investment.
We are a complementary wholesaler that distributes products and value added services to the trade and consumer while providing knowledge for a highly specialised market that commands specific skills and know-how in terms of weight, tyre construction and application.
Dealers are required to sign a Service Level Agreement. There are a few criteria to signing an SLA which are based on a dealer’s ability to deliver the service needed for a successful transaction. This does not hinder them from selling opposition products. We have already signed up many forwardthinking dealerships and are able to offer
consumers a national network of fitment
centers when buying online.
All business is transacted via our online platform. Best of all, once a consumer has selected his tyre of choice and where he would like to have the tyres fitted, the dealer is paid both a tyre margin and reimbursed the entire service fee. This rewards the dealer for the level of service delivered.
The business model is simple and dealers who collaborate with us profit without holding unrealistic stock values and tying up working capital. We aim to drive as many consumers as possible to
premium retailer stores.
We do not undercut our products or services and aim to close the knowledge gap from a consumer interface point of view, taking them from start to finish, so they understand the importance of fittin the correct tyre onto their vehicle.
The Digital Age has seen consumers becoming savvy in their purchases as they now have access to a wealth of information via the internet. In short, the dealers we have partnered are entrepreneurs offering highly specialised services.
I have visited your online platform and it seems easy to navigate. Have you come up against any resistance from dealers that are unfamiliar with this
In the beginning, yes and this was to be expected in an industry in real change, but whether we like it or not, Digitalisation is here to stay, and it is not the enemy!
As you correctly point out, the system is simple and easy to navigate. It works well and ensures that the consumers’ needs are met while also ensuring the dealer
Business is responding to the evolving need to change the business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities. Mobile communication has dramatically accelerated a customer’s ability to explore options which would result in either an online facilitated sale or dealer direct sale. Covid accelerated this transformation. This is the first phase in the new digital world and is here to stay, now is the time for us to embrace it, particularly as we need to appeal to a tech-savvy generation.
Dealers can also purchase tyres via the dealer portal where stock, prices and delivery times are specific for each dealer, providing more accurate and immediate
information than ever before. Let me reiterate TyreLife Solutions business to business approach is paramount because we could not do this without the tyre retailer.
In short, Tyrelife Solutions are referral partners to the trade. We refer to ourselves as their ‘Silent Salesmen’ because this, in effect, is what we are
Going back to the widespread practice of selling on price, how do you believe the industry can turn this round?
The only way would be through the introduction of regulations which adequately protect consumers from the illicit traders out there who have little or no regard for what we stand for. Traders are encountering different business challenges, without formal regulations. This is counter-productive for the industry and equally harmful for the consumer, who may not be supplied the right tyre for their application and there is an alarming trend illustrating this.
Traditionally, the tyre business is regarded as a low-skills industry, with low salary barriers for tyre fitters and sales personnel, creating an environment that has led to jobhopping, and poor staff retention levels. This needs to change and will only be achieved through ongoing investment in the development of people in store and with ongoing tyre and fitment knowledge. TyreLife Solutions can assist with this development and this to will be rolled out in our industry visits next year.
What is next for Tyrelife Solutions?
Until recently, we have concentrated exclusively on the 4×4 and light truck market segments, but this is about to change. Dealers are asking for a complete
range of products. We are finalising a complete tyre, wheel and accessory offer which is designed specifically to cater for all product and price segments and on a good better and best basis and will be unveiled early next year. Each of these quality brands will complement our existing product range and extend our range to cater for all product segments. In 2023 Tyrelife Solutions will supply the full spectrum of products to meet the consumer and retailer requirements.
Moreover, we are now a growing distributor of 4×4/SUV wheels in South Africa with the exclusivity of Momo wheels for passenger vehicles and the backing of The Wheel Group (TWG) with brands such Dirty Life, ION, DWC, MT Metal and Dynamic Steel for the off-the-road sectors. Wheels are a sexy but complicated business, elevating our desire to upskill dealer staff as few understand wheels, and the significant role they play in the vehicle’s safety and performance.
As before, dealers across the country will have the chance to gain personal access to the Tyrelife Solutions ‘solution’ via a succession of road trips which will take place next year and this will also serve to raise brand awareness for our name and what we stand for. Best of all, our flexible Digital Programme is now scalable, designed in such a way as to be able to grow and evolve at minimal additional cost. This is the way of the future, and we are excited to be able to provide a complete digital online solution to our customers.
Georg, your passion for the trade is evident. What type of legacy would you like to create for yourself?
I would love to see a greater level of dealer expertise in an industry which is changing rapidly to meet the demands of a carbon neutral world. Training cannot be left solely at the feet of manufacturers; their focus is manufacturing and with margin creep it becomes difficult and costly to serve all retailers on the merits of tyre technology and retailing. TyreLife Solutions have a manufacturing DNA with a definitive focus on customers and their needs which should never be compromised.
What is your message to the Retailer and consumer?
Our slogan says it all: ‘It’s not what it Costs, it’s what it’s Worth‘. A phrase coined by our partner company’s (NTAW Australia) founder Terry Smith!