The tire change that comes to you

Born out of an Ivey Business School new venture project, Wheel Easy finds a receptive market for its mobile tire change concept

Photo: Wheel Easy founder, Dennis Ho

THEY SAY EXPERIENCE makes us who we are, and in the case of entrepreneur Dennis Ho, his background as an auto mechanic shaped his ideas around what makes a great customer experience in automotive services. And Ho’s start-up Wheel Easy is all about great customer experience.

Wheel Easy is all about giving the customer the ultimate in accessibility and convenience. The customer uses an online platform to book their preferred time for tire changes and Wheel Easy comes to their home or business to do the job. For the consumer this means no more wasted Saturdays waiting in dealerships, drinking bad coffee and anxiously waiting for the sight of a mechanic.

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To the “hands-on” practical Ho, an online mobile service just makes sense. There are mobile dog groomers, mobile hair cutters so why not a mobile tire changes or other routine auto services?

Ho had started his career in a small family-owned shop that was strong on customer service. Later he was part of a bigger dealership that offered a full range of services. Ho was always interested in combining excellent mechanical service and excellent customer service, which he knew from his earliest working days in the fast-food industry was really important.

Later on, Ho decided to add a formal business education to help him build the kind of shop he envisioned. One that was both professionally managed and still at the core valued every customer.

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As part of a summer intersession project, Ho pitched an early version of his Wheel Easy project to his team of classmates. They didn’t go for it. Undeterred, in September, Ho re-presented a more robust version of his idea to a different team of classmates. This time they liked it and agreed to work on it. He was advised to test the marketplace by posting the service on Kijiji and Facebook just to see what kind of responses he got ― but not necessarily perform the work ― just test the waters.

The response was significant and Ho decided that he might as well do the work and get paid for it and talk directly to the customers at the same time. As the demand stayed constant, Ho made a Facebook page and a website and systemized how to handle the volume along with full-time school.

With Wheel Easy still very much a work in progress, he developed a business plan, compiled more market research and applied for the Ivey Business Plan Competition in January 2022 in which he placed third. He followed this by entering the Stu Clark New Venture Championships―Undergraduate Edition, (University of Manitoba) in March 2022 where he placed second in the business plan competition and second in the elevator pitch ― being the only solo founder to place and the only venture to place in both parts of the event.

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Through these competitions, Ho and Wheel Easy were exposed to a variety of experienced entrepreneurs and investors. Ho took the opportunity to follow up with judges from both events and has compiled a list of mentors to help bounce off questions pertaining to strategic and business model issues.

The next steps for Ho are expanding the supplier side of the platform and increasing consumer awareness. Eventually he’d like the platform to include a broad range of mobile services from many partners operating in an Uber-type environment. The technicians get added capability and infrastructure allowing for scheduling, payment and marketing. The consumer gets the transparency of seeing their online reviews and actually watching the services being done.

To further build the business Ho plans to enter an Accelerator program which will give him access to further resources and advice and businesspeople.

Although Ho notes a mobile service will never fully replace the traditional full service, consumers have already shown the demand is there. Many of us do want our Saturday mornings back. The tire change that comes to you tire Startup Story by Jane Weller, courtesy of  Western University

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