From humble beginnings as a mechanic to three decades – and counting – of managerial experience under his belt, JAX Tyres CEO Steve Grossrieder brings a down-to-earth approach to leadership where the customer is at the forefront.
“When I was an apprentice mechanic, many years ago, the tradesman who I was working with would say, ‘Put on your customer’s shoes.’ It was the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given,” reminisces Steve.
“If you think like a customer, you can service the customer better. Now, I often have to remind myself to put on my customer’s shoes, even though I might still need my corporate shoes on as well sometimes. But, doing this is key to ensuring that the customer always has a voice about every element in your company.”
As his first order of business, Steve – drawing on his nearly eight-year stint at Club Assist and 12-year run at insurance and roadside-assistance giant the NRMA – developed a five-year strategy that would see the expansion and growth of JAX Tyres’ current model within Australia, as well as an international deployment – all while putting the customer at the forefront.
“We’re calling it our journey from good to great,” he says. “Customer experience is at the heart of the JAX Tyres brand, and safety and surety is in our DNA. So, as part of our new strategy moving forward, we will be very focused around this message that is promoted by our new slogan, ‘Peace of Mind Driving’.”
“If you think like a customer, you can service the customer better.”
With the new slogan, comes the potential for a brand extension – with the soft launch later in the year, which will serve to eliminate any confusion in the customer’s mind. “What I noticed when I came to JAX Tyres was this misconception about what we do exactly,” Steve explains.
“While we are definitely a tyre retailer, just under half of our business is light mechanical. We offer customers a free auto inspection, called a JAX Inspect, where we check key safety and mechanical items while they wait for their tyres to be replaced or repaired. What we’re doing is really starting to educate the consumers and our customers that we are in the auto space as well, and we’re open for business.”
It’s a message JAX Tyres is taking digitally. When Steve first came on board, he found the website was underused and part of his strategy encompasses using technology to drive the brand into the future.
“We have an aggressive digital engine – our website attracts more than 300,000 visitors a month. But, if there wasn’t a store within a specific radius of where that customer was researching tyres, then we wouldn’t be able to service that customer effectively. It’s a good problem to have since people were coming to our website to be informed, but it was a huge lost revenue opportunity. So, over the next 12 months, I’ll be working very closely with our franchisees in the field, strengthening the model and expanding our almost 90 sites up to 120 nationally, creating a solid national footprint. We want to make sure that, as we merge the migration of brick and mortar into the digital space, the customer continues to get an exceptional experience every time.”
Under Steve’s leadership, JAX Tyres will also be futureproofed as it paves the way for industry standards in electric vehicle maintenance and repair.
“As the automotive market evolves and autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles come into play, we want to be there to assist the market through this change. It’s a natural progression for us,” Steve says of the company’s light mechanical model.
“My team and I are going to make sure that JAX is positioned as a leading electric vehicle specialist in the industry.”
To do this, JAX Tyres is outfitting each of its stores with electric vehicle chargers, and specialised batteries and tyres to service these modern automobiles.
It’s a feat he says wouldn’t be possible without the support of key suppliers and partnerships like Goodyear & Dunlop Tyres, MaritzCX, Michelin, Bridgestone, AtlasBX, Pirelli and Hankook.
“We have eight major brands that we work very closely with because of the differences in the market with new technology and tyres. These partnerships are vital because they ensure that JAX is a premium retailer with the most up-to-date information and latest technology as it rolls out.”
The partnerships, including the relationship with fast-growing Hankook Tire & Technology Group, are also helping to catapult JAX worldwide.
“It’s part of our ‘Fit for Growth’ initiative. It’s all about getting our Australia business ready for expansion. Hankook has great aspirations for us and wants to see JAX established as the retail centre of excellence to help them evolve and develop their retail expertise. This will give them further opportunities within the current countries they already operate in. That part of our international growth strategy is really exciting.”
And completely attainable too, according to Steve. “We have an aggressive growth strategy. I believe if you really want to change the culture, then your strategy must be aggressive. Otherwise, you will only get incremental change. If you’re looking for transformational change, you absolutely have to set larger targets; otherwise, you won’t create the environment for culture change. We’re in a world and a market that are dramatically changing. But, we have a really good brand. We have a great customer philosophy, and a growing value proposition. We’re up for the challenge.”
- Customer-centricity. “It has to be customer centric. A lot of organisations will talk it but very few will walk it. So, make it believable.”
- Engagement. “Make your people feel like they’re a part of it. Make them live and breathe it. It will make execution so much easier.”
- Accountability. “This is very important. Hold everyone as accountable as you hold yourself through a one-team philosophy.”
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