As the largest franchisor of RNR Tire Express, David Harrison knows a thing or two about running a successful business. Since opening his first location in 2005, Harrison has expanded to 32 locations across Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, generating $50 million in revenue in 2020. However, it hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows for Harrison. Like many business owners, his journey has been a winding road filled with peaks and valleys. Navigating the various highs and lows of business has given Harrison a unique perspective into what it takes to succeed. Check out his tips to start your own road to success.
Be Willing to Change
From an owner’s perspective, every business is born out of a great idea with plans to make it all come to fruition. However, that doesn’t mean that those plans can’t change. In fact, sometimes change is necessary and the willingness to adapt is a key component of business success. Harrison was open to change shortly after he broke into the tire business and saw an opportunity to expand his customer base.
“When we started, we were called Rent and Roll and I didn’t really like it,” he said. “I felt like it alienated a lot of customers. If you’re a mainstream customer and you see rent in a business name, then you just go on down the road. When we changed to RNR Tire Express, it felt more inclusive and gave us something that had broader appeal.”
Focus on What You Do Best
Jeff Bezos and Amazon notwithstanding, it’s nearly impossible for a business to serve all people at all times. Trying to wear too many hats can squash any growth opportunities before they even present themselves. A more pragmatic approach is focusing on what you do best and delivering the highest quality of that good or service to your customers. Prioritizing the strengths of his business allowed Harrison to successfully navigate the unforeseen challenges of the 2008 financial crisis.
“What we did better than anybody else was we gave people a way to pay for stuff,” he said. “If you remember, there was a lot of concern about financing at that time. Consumer credit got very tight, so it really created a unique opportunity for me and my business to find people that had kind of been left behind. They might not have a perfect credit score, but they were good folks. We were certainly willing to take the risk. That was our motto.”
Expect the Unexpected
Unexpected is just one of the many words that could be used to describe the 2008 financial crisis. Harrison had recently expanded into Dallas before the market crash and the murky financial situation led to many restless nights and fear of losing his business. While shifting his sales approach and marketing strategy, Harrison remained committed to his team and customers in Dallas. He started experimenting with ideas to appeal to a mainstream audience, resulting in a profit of $300,000 by the end of 2009.
“One of the ideas was to just get it to the point of being profitable,” Harrison said. “I’ve never been a big proponent of that. I think you’ve got to grow your way out of stuff. There were a lot of days in 2009 that I just put one foot in front of the other and did what I had to do.”
Don’t Let Success Be Defined by Profits
Headlined by some of the world’s largest brands such as Walmart and Apple, being named to the Fortune 500 list is arguably the most prestigious award a company can earn. However, revenue isn’t the only way to determine the success of a business. For Harrison, the priority has always been people over profits.
“One of my core beliefs is that I can help you become successful if I can identify what your gifts are, and we all have them,” he said. “Success doesn’t necessarily mean money. Success means that you do something, you do it well and you’re happy doing it.”
Every business owner has their own set of goals for their company. Some are interested in increasing market share or decreasing debt, while others are focused on community outreach or improving customer service. For Harrison, the ultimate motivation is helping others become the best version of themselves.
“I really believe that you have an obligation as a business leader to help people find their way to success,” he said. “If you help other people get what they want, then you’ll always have what you want. Those of us that are given the ability to create wealth and opportunities have a responsibility to help others grow. The motivation has to be about helping others.”