KMART TYRE & AUTO SERVICE: DRIVEN BY PEOPLE
By keeping its team and its customers at the centre of all decision making, KTAS has become one of Australia’s largest and most trusted automotive tyre, service and repair businesses.
KTAS has been around since 1969 but was restructured in 1992 as a specialist and autonomous division of Kmart.
Back then, it had just 132 stores. Today, the company operates more than 250 stores in every state and territory throughout Australia. At the same time, KTAS remains wholly company-owned and prides itself on its convenient locations, industry leading guarantees and unique offer of everyday low prices on leading tyre brands. Employing more than 1300 team members nationally, those behind KTAS say it is a business committed to ensuring it’s a great place to work, while providing genuine value and ongoing peace of mind to customers.
“We are truly customer focused – along with our people, our customers are our top priority,” Kmart Tyre & Auto Service Managing Director, Adam Pay, said.
“Our vision is to be the most trusted brand for fixing cars and the entire organisation rallies around that. We’ve repositioned ourselves over the past few years – our industry continues to change at pace and we recognised we needed to do business differently.
“The changes around us are significant, but at the same time, open up a vast number of opportunities to continuously refine what we are doing and capitalise on them.
“We have a solid plan in place to grow our business sustainably for the long-term and our focus remains on improving the customer and team member experience, running efficient and productive stores and growing our store network – making sure it’s simple and enjoyable to both shop and work with us is where it’s at.”
Adam goes on to say that a customer centric approach plays a key role in the way KTAS does business.
“Our customers trust us to do the right thing and keep them safe on the road,” Adam said.
“They know they can rely on us to not only get the job done but to get it done safely and to a high quality. For us, adopting a customer centric approach means really listening to what our customers are asking for and ensuring we deliver on that, by helping them shop with us the way they want to.
“Our mobile tyre fitting service is a great example of this. We know many customers are looking for convenience and flexibility, so we introduced this new mobile service. This extension of our great in-store offer brings everyday low tyre prices direct to the homes and offices of our customers.
“We’re really pleased to be able to provide a service that we know makes such a difference from a convenience perspective. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and business is really starting to step up in this space.”
In addition to its mobile tyre fitting service, KTAS says it has developed and implemented a number of initiatives to better meet the demands of its customers.
Last year it introduced a dedicated, Melbourne-based team to handle customer tyre enquiries and bookings, which allows the teams in store to spend more time focusing on their customers, providing honest advice and delivering high-quality workmanship – while at the same time customers who call them can seamlessly and easily get tyre advice and make tyre bookings. Heavy investment has also been made in modernising workshops, including state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and the installation of the latest wheel alignment equipment, which ensures a higher standard of service and increased accuracy.
“Without doubt though, our biggest investment is in our most valuable resource – our team,” Adam said.
“We have a fantastic team who are really excited about the future of our business and who are working tirelessly to make sure we get it right.
“I’m so fortunate to have a talented and dedicated leadership team. Our Store Support team is passionate about doing what it takes to keep our stores running smoothly; our Operations team provides strong leadership and direction on the ground; and our store team members just want to do the right thing for our customers. That’s what I love about our business – everyone pulls together and makes it happen for our customers.
“When I first joined Kmart Tyre & Auto Service, I started out on the workshop floor – working my way through from Store Manager to Managing Director. I know first-hand what experiences our team has every day, what kinds of interactions they have with our customers and our team, and how important it is to provide our team with the opportunity to carve out a career.
“We need great apprentices, in fact we’re the single largest direct employer of apprentices, and we are continually investing in our apprentice program in partnership with TAFEs like Kangan in Victoria and Ultimo in NSW to make sure that an apprenticeship with us is a great platform for a career as a technician.
“We have many great technicians, but we also need to give them opportunity to progress through to management and leadership roles if that’s the path they’d like to follow.
“Our career path generally follows the journey from a tyre fitter or apprentice, through to a qualified technician and then into leadership roles such as Store Manager and Operations. Our ‘KTAS Academy’ provides technical, management and leadership development aligned to where you currently are on your career path. These programs help guide you along the road you’d like to take. We support development at all levels, not just at senior levels.”
Through its growing store network nationally, KTAS can continue to offer development opportunities and experiences for its people.
“We’ve been able to promote a significant number of our team members from within our ranks, which is fantastic to see and has been possible, in large part, due to our store network growth,” Adam said.
“We’ve been opening between eight to 12 stores per year nationally and are looking to increase this number over the next five years. More stores means we can serve more customers and it means more opportunities for our people.
“When you look at the tenure of our team members, you can see we have a healthy mix of long-standing team members and fresh new faces. In fact, one of our team members has just celebrated their 40-year anniversary with us – so we must be doing something right!”
While its focus on customers and its team is clear, KTAS also works hard to make a difference in its local communities while minimising its environmental impact. It has a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility and aims to support community programs wherever possible.
KTAS is proud to support Kids Under Cover, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to preventing youth homelessness, through the Donate Your Car program – this involves donating vehicles that have been abandoned at KTAS stores by customers. Kmart Tyre & Auto Service also strongly supports sustainability, by running a recycling program in each of their stores across Australia and they participate in the Tyre Stewardship Australia Scheme.
As the company looks to the future, Adam reflects on the changes the industry will soon see. As a member of the AAAA (Adam is also on the National Council), has been heavily involved in the Choice of Repairer campaign, supporting the ACCC investigation through technical advice, case studies, ministerial and ACCC store visits. This has provided fantastic insight to the real challenges faced by limited access to data – and the ACCC welcomed this input.
“We’re really proud that we have been able to contribute to this campaign and believe this is a genuine turning point for our industry. Together we have been able to make our voice heard and it’s an exciting time to be part of this industry,” Adam said.
“But at the end of the day, regardless of these changes, fixing cars is still what we do – and we will continue to do it well. Being a successful business allows us to continue to invest in the things that matter like our people, training, equipment and stores.
“We’re always on the lookout for ways to improve the customer or team member experience and will continue to be driven by people. We have a great team, are invested in our customers and love what we do. We’ve changed a lot over the years – come check us out!”
To keep up to date with Kmart Tyre & Auto Service, follow them on LinkedIn or visit www.ktas.com.au