Manufacturer online training
Tire makers are challenged to keep dealers and sales associates informed about their products and the evolving technology that goes into them.
For tire dealers to succeed and partner effectively with tire manufacturers, online education is proving to be a very useful tool.
Manufacturers have found many ways to make online courses more engaging and compelling. Traditional lectures and slide shows have been replaced by high quality animation and graphics accessible via WiFi connections or smart devices.
Tire makers also are incorporating “gamification” — or games — in their online classes to enhance the learning experience.
Manufacturers also are learning that online education is a two-way street. The Internet offers a channel for dealers to provide feedback on topics they feel they need to know more about in order to better run their businesses and remain profitable.
We asked manufacturers to tell us about their online training offerings.
Bridgestone Education Network
Gregg Trosper, manager, consumer tire education, U.S. and Canada Consumer Tire Sales Division, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations.
Earlier this year, Bridgestone crafted an entirely new curriculum designed specifically for sales associates. We began work with an award-winning training company, SweetRush, to help us create the most engaging courses, utilizing state-of-the-art techniques and technologies for training, including gamification (games), video and animation. To date, more than 65 courses are now available online covering technology, products, sales and customer service.
Learners access courses via the new Bridgestone learning portal, www.mybridgestoneeducation.com. We know sales associates are busy people. Therefore, courses are designed in small, manageable chunks with some courses being as brief as five minutes.
Bridgestone has continued and enhanced its highly regarded Pro-Cert program. To qualify for Pro-Cert designation, sales associates complete a select group of courses in technology, maintenance, products and sales. Upon completion, they must pass a final assessment to qualify for Pro-Cert status.
In addition to Pro-Cert, Bridgestone also has created a series of badges and ranks, including Professional, Expert and Master. These ranks require sales associates to continue to build their knowledge and skills, as each rank increases in complexity. Professional and Expert levels are available now.
This is just the beginning. Bridgestone understands the key to successful tire sales is a well-prepared and educated sales force. They are the direct line to the consumer.
In 2015, Bridgestone will roll out the Master rank and continue to build specialized courses for both the sales associates and managers.
Continental Engage360 Online Training Program
Lyndsey Bowlus, sales training manager, passenger and light truck tires/commercial vehicle tires, Continental Tire the Americas LLC.
At Continental we offer the Engage360 Online Training Program to our customers who have an account (ship-to number) with us. There are over 60 modules ranging from product segments, tires with features and benefits, to sales skills and social media skills.
Training is completed by watching an individual module that runs about three to 10 minutes (depending on the topic) with videos and animations. All modules are positioned in a virtual training center.
It’s up to each individual learner what they want to accomplish with the training. Learners can pick and choose which modules they want to focus on, versus having to take a package of classes. Our motto is: The more you learn, the more you earn!
The system is live 24/7 at www.engage360training.com.
At the end of each video/animation module there is a short quiz. Once passed the learner receives a custom certificate that he/she can print, and they are awarded points. The points can be redeemed on gear such as T-shirts, hats, gloves gadgets or gifts.
We also offer a Engage360 PRO level. Once you pass 10 standard tests you unlock the PRO level. Take three Super tests and score 100% and you become PRO-certified. You receive a PRO certificate with a nice cover and 300 bonus points.
Each year as new products are launched, so are new Engage360 training modules. We are consistently updating the site so Continental dealers need to come back often to check out what’s new.
eCooper University Training Rewards!
Adam Zickert, Channel and Consumer Marketing director, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.
Cooper Tire recently launched a new online training program called eCooper University Training Rewards!, which builds upon a very successful classroom-led program called Cooper Advanced Management Program (CAMP). CAMP offered training not just in product and sales methods and techniques for counter personnel, but also training in business management for dealership owners.
The new online program offers or will offer training in sales skills, tire knowledge and technology, our products, our brand value proposition, financial management, human resources, dealer marketing, how to use digital marketing for your dealership or distributorship, and other courses in products, sales and business management. In addition, we offer detailed classes for each of our key tires.
The courses are for counter personnel, sales managers, service managers, location managers, district or region managers, wholesale sales staff (both inside and outside), and specialists such as buyers and merchandisers for our full range of customers, whether they are national retailers or regional retailers with or without distribution operations, wholesale distributors or associate dealers. And of course, owners and executives are welcome to take the courses and will benefit from them, as well.
We modeled the program after a college curricula, with 100-, 200-, 300- and 400-level courses. As we built the program, we developed a detailed profile for each course similar to what you’d find in a college catalog, identifying any prerequisites, who should take the class, the topics to be covered, and how often we would need to update the content to reflect changes in the marketplace.
Once defined, we prepared the content for each course and worked closely with online course designers to create an online video experience featuring narration that often includes animation and gamification to enhance the learning experience. We’ve found that this approach serves to make each course more engaging and compelling than traditional lecture-style training or slide show training.
Each course starts out telling the learner what the learning objectives are and what they will get out of the class, which is also summarized at the end. By combining visuals with audio, research in learning has shown that learner retention of the content is significantly enhanced. In addition, we recognize that our dealers and distributors have busy work schedules, so the system is designed to allow the learner to stop in the middle of a course and resume later, picking up right where they left off.
We’ve also made it easy for our customers to access the training. For example, our Medallion program dealers can register their employees through the program website and, once registered, the employees can access the content directly from their personal computers, tablets or smartphones at their convenience.
Completing the training depends upon the course content. Our product classes, for example, are designed to take about 10 minutes and are a straight presentation of each tire’s features and benefits. More in-depth material covering a broader range of content, such as Sales 101 (Salesmanship) and Product 101 (Tire Fundamentals), are broken into multiple modules which take about 15 minutes each to complete.
Our first set of courses, which we call Basic Training and which includes Sales 101: Salesmanship; Product 101: Tire Fundamentals; Product 102: The Cooper Lineup; Brand 101: Working with Cooper; and Business 101: The Tire Industry. Completing all five courses should take about three to three and one-half hours. Taking the individual product classes may add about 10 to 15 minutes for each class taken.
Our new material includes knowledge testing as part of the courses in the form of quizzes and games. If the learner misses too many questions, they have the opportunity to repeat the test and then get additional content that shows them the correct answers.
Once the learner has completed a curriculum, such as Basic Training, they are awarded a Certificate of Completion and points to use in the eCooper University Training Rewards! rewards store. The points can be used to purchase a wide assortment of items ranging from Cooper-branded apparel and gear to electronic gadgets and automotive accessories.
We are currently offering 100-level courses with plans to roll out higher-level courses over the next 12 to 18 months. The planned courses offer four levels of certification including the current Basic Training Certification level now available. The additional certification levels focus on our upcoming 200-, 300- and 400-level courses and include:
- Sales Specialist Certification — this level is designed to give Cooper Tire customers extended expertise in selling and serving the needs of sub-segments within the tire market.
- Sales Leader Certification — this level provides greater depth and expertise to Cooper Tire customers, enhancing their knowledge and skills in tire performance and technology.
- Tire Business Leader — designed for managers and principals of tire dealers and distributors, the Tire Business Leader Certification is focused on providing business training for successfully managing a tire business with courses that may include marketing, financial management and human resources.
While most of these levels focus on online learning, a few include hands-on experiences such as ride-and-drives at the Cooper Tire and Vehicle Test Center in Pearsall, Texas, and visits to our Global Technical Center in Findlay, Ohio.
Falken Tire P.E.A.K. Training
Bakari Howard, Regional Brand Manager, Team Azenis, Falken Tire Corp.
Falken’s online tire industry training courses is Performance Education Achievement Knowledge (P.E.A.K.) Training. The website is primarily for our retailers, wholesalers, associate dealers and internal staff.
The website encompasses videos and PDF documents. The training should take a person with basic tire knowledge a little more than an hour to complete.
There are a total of five modules which cover 11 of our products. The modules are Passenger Car, Light Truck/SUV, Branding, Tire Basics 101 and a specific module for our latest passenger car tire, the ZE950.
Graduates are certified and the website will send a PDF certificate via email to the user once each module is successfully passed.
In the future we plan to continue updating the modules in a timely manner with our newest product releases.
Giti Tire Tread Academy
Joe Anzelmo, senior manager of Marketing, Advertising & Promotions, Giti Tire (USA) Ltd.
Giti Tire (USA) Ltd. offers an online training site, treadacademy.com, currently covering GT Radial branded products. The site is designed for dealers who sell GT Radial tires, consumers who would like to learn more details about our tires and company personnel.
Training is presented in two languages, English and French. The site is divided in two segments, commercial tire and passenger/light truck. Users select the language, professional or consumer account and create a profile with selections on commercial, passenger and light truck, or both segments. There are five study guide modules for passenger and light truck and two study guide modules for commercial tires. Once a user is authorized, training can begin at the user’s own pace.
Completion of the training depends on a user’s skill level and familiarity of the content, usually between three and six hours.
Testing is conducted with the professional level course selection only with the test questions based on the study guide materials and other supplied content. Once a user finishes and successfully passes all modules, they are certified and will receive corresponding segment congratulatory gifts.
Our plans for the future are to keep improving the website, introducing new products and content and enhancing the user experience.
Goodyear Learning Center
The Goodyear Learning Center (GLC) is a system that associates and dealers use to easily manage and track learning. The GLC provides managers the ability to assign courses and to track progress and completions for each of their associates.
The Goodyear Learning Center offers e-learning courses from the Tire Industry Association (TIA) that are available to Goodyear associates and dealers. These courses are easily accessible and designed for new hires as well as experienced employees. The GLC is currently offering the following TIA courses:
- Basic Automotive Tire Service (ATS);
- Advanced Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS);
- Basic Commercial Tire Service (CTS) in English and Spanish;
- Basic Farm Tire Service (FTS);
- Earthmover Tire Service (ETS).
Goodyear also offers a variety of courses, such as:
- Goodyear Product Knowledge;
- Selling Skills;
- General Automotive Service; and
- Managerial and Leadership Development.
The GLC offers both instructor-led and online training courses. Online courses are presented as self-paced e-learning, instructor-led and recorded Webex sessions, self-studies and Podcasts. Many of these courses include videos, simulations and animations to enhance the learner experience.
The duration of the training depends on the type of course and the content. Time requirements for e-learning range from approximately five to 30 minutes per module. Webex sessions are typically 30 minutes to one hour.
The e-learning and Webex courses include a post-assessment that is required for completion. Participants have the ability to print a certificate of completion for each course.
The Goodyear Learning Center is looking to expand its interactive course offerings and provide content in a way that users can access what they need, on demand, from multiple devices.
Hankook Empowerment Training Program
Henry Kopacz, public relations and social media manager, Hankook Tire America Corp.
Hankook Tire America Corp. operates an online training website called the Empowerment Online Training Program which is available for dealer and retail associates to learn more about Hankook as a company and our wide range of products.
The training program is a user name and password protected, website-based service. Individuals interested in completing the training register for access though a link located on the hankooktireusa.com website dealer center. After registering, users’ contact information is confirmed and access is granted. Animation is used throughout each learning module to present information in a more user-friendly manner.
Completing the Empowerment Online Training Program takes users roughly two to three hours to complete in total, including covering the information provided and completing the required tests. However, users can complete the training and testing in modules at their leisure, taking as much time as they need to complete the training.
Users are tested in module format which groups information into categories such as PCR patterns, LTR patterns, TBR patterns, etc. Upon passing all the related module tests users become Hankook Empowerment Certified. They also receive a printable PDF Empowerment Certified certificate which can be printed out and displayed at their retail location to inform consumers. As an added incentive, users that pass all test modules with a score of 80% or better receive a $70 American Express gift card; users who pass with a perfect 100% on all module tests receive a $100 gift card. It is a way for us to say thank you for taking the time to learn about our company and products, knowledge that is vitally important at the point-of-sale.
We will continue to update the Empowerment Online Training Program on a regular basis from both a technology/design standpoint as well as a product standpoint.
Kumho Tire EDGE
James Choi, assistant manager of Marketing Programs, Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc.
Kumho Tire U.S.A. provides online product training to Premium Fuel associate dealers and distributors on the Kumho Tire dealer portal. This online training resource is referred to as Kumho Tire EDGE. This video training provides in-depth instruction on both PCR and LTR Kumho Tire patterns as it pertains to product, internal construction, tread, performance capabilities, and other technical spec details.
The training is provided in Adobe Flash video format. Dealers, distributors and new Kumho employees will go through a series of videos, segregated by specific pattern, and then answer a few questions on the training they just received before moving on to the next pattern.
The entire EDGE training program takes about six hours to complete. Each Kumho PCR and LTR pattern contains about six minutes of video, followed by the Q&A section.
Dealers have to answer 100% of the questions correctly in order to move on to the next pattern training. If a question is answered incorrectly, dealers can review the section of the video where the topic at hand is reviewed, and then they will be returned to the quiz. Each time a dealer has to retake the quiz, new questions will be generated in order to ensure dealers are retaining the most pertinent details of each educational section.
Once the entire program is complete, dealers will receive an official Kumho certificate as an EDGE program graduate, as well as a $25 prepaid Visa reward card. In addition to this, at the end of each tire pattern section, dealers will receive 25 points to use at the Kumho Tire online store that provides wearables, office supplies, car accessories, and many other everyday items that dealers can use their accrued points to purchase.
There are many ideas in the works to expand on the Kumho Tire EDGE training program. Kumho’s headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, also has training for dealers, but it includes much more than product specs, such as company history. One of the thoughts is to integrate some of HQ’s offerings into the Kumho Tire U.S.A. training. Other ideas are to work on making the videos more entertaining and visually interesting for trainees, offer marketing techniques, details to the Premium Fuel program overall, and other business aspects.
Michelin Learning Institute
Candace Cluck, Retail Marketing director, Michelin North America Inc.
Michelin’s philosophy toward online sales associate training is: Tire sales associate training is a foundational element of Michelin’s go-to-market approach. It is particularly important because Michelin makes a premium product and shoppers need to understand what is unique about the technology, engineering and performance characteristics that go into this product to deliver the desired driving experience the shopper is seeking. Tire sales associates need to learn how to explain and demonstrate to shoppers these unique points of difference that Michelin delivers over its competitors’ offerings.
Michelin offers the Michelin Learning Institute (MLI) at www.michelinlearninginstitute.net for all retailers of the Michelin, BFGoodrich and Uniroyal tire brands. MLI is designed to provide the tools and knowledge needed to transform tire sales associates into sales consultants, elevating the category and increasing in-store recommendations of Michelin products.
MLI features training courses across five categories of tire knowledge: Tire Basics, Passenger, Light Truck, Sport UHP and Winter. In addition to courses, MLI keeps its audience informed on the latest industry trends and tire news through Michelin Expert Updates, tire publication RSS feeds, and supplementary reference materials.
Training is presented by video in short, easy-to-digest segments with knowledge checks often imbedded in the course to aid in content retention. Courses are action-packed and engaging, typically under 15 minutes each, a length of time designed to allow the tire sales associate to complete an entire course during a break or a small chunk of down time during a busy business day. MLI meets the sales associate where he or she is, and is accessible on desktop, tablet and mobile platforms.
Our goal is to provide all of the relevant and effective sales, marketing and product-related resources at the fingertips of our tire retailer sales associates, while making the learning experience entertaining and enjoyable at the same time.
Courses are on average under 15 minutes in length and it takes about 6.5 hours to complete the entire Michelin Certified Tire Specialist certification program.
Each MLI course concludes with an exam that a sales associate must pass in order to receive completion credit. Sales associates that complete every current course in the tire basics, passenger, light truck, sport UHP and winter categories become Michelin Certified Tire Specialists (MCTS). The MCTS accreditation can be used by the sales associate to communicate to shoppers the knowledgeable support and superior service that the MCTS credential exemplifies.
Our approach to online training is based on a recognition/understanding/insight that any one tire shopper could be influenced by a variety of information sources. A sales associate who has taken MLI training courses remains a highly effective pathway for delivering important product knowledge and recommendations to shoppers right at the moment of the buying decision. But we feel there is more that can be done to ease the process for the sales associate, and this includes arming this person with additional resources that may ultimately be of interest to the shopper. Aggregating additional tire product related information in one place alongside the MLI training courses is part of a new effort to raise overall sales associate conviction for Michelin products and services. We believe if this conviction is strong enough it can transfer an emotional spark of interest to the shopper during the selling process.
MLI will experiment with organizing and packaging information on the site in new ways. For example, clustering course content with related marketing videos, user-generated content, and consumer ratings and reviews is being explored.
Gamification elements will become more pervasive on the site to better sustain engagement and inspire the user to learn more, while more opportunities for sales associates to connect with fellow sales associates also will become available.
Pirelli Tire Campus
James Semones, training manager, Pirelli Tire North America.
Pirelli has an online training platform called Pirelli Tire Campus, which was established in July 2012 for all direct Pirelli dealers, Pirelli associate dealers and OEM car dealerships.
The product training has been created using an interactive Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) player-based modular format. The modules cover the following content areas:
- technical features and innovation;
- product reputation; and
- unique selling proposition.
Videos are used in certain training modules to help showcase the performance-related attributes of the tires.
The platform also consists of a tire product knowledge quiz covering:
- what is a tire?
- structure and function;
- tread patterns and designs;
- tire materials;
- tire performance;
- tire pressures;
- wheels and valves; and
- fitment and storage.
The average time is 15 to 20 minutes per module. The platform also was designed to enable greater flexibility for participants, where they can log-in and complete each module at their convenience.
Each product module has a test at the end of the training. The tests consist of eight to 10 questions. When the participant completes all of the required modules of the Pirelli Tire Campus training program, they will receive a certificate for their retail tire location, as well as a personal certificate and gift (polo shirt).
Pirelli will continue to expand the Pirelli Tire Campus platform as we develop new product lines.
Steve Warner, senior manager Dealer Support, Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp.
Toyo Tires offers an online training course for dealers and associates that is comprised of modules featuring a variety of study aides including training videos, product study guides and ultimately certification tests. Each course module is designed to take about one hour to complete and the user can stop and restart their sessions if they become timed-out for whatever reason.
There are currently 10 separate training modules lasting approximately one hour each.
The online test courses are derived from basic-to-advanced Toyo Tire technology, covering all of our products from light truck tires to commercial tires. Trainees are tested on their knowledge of features and benefits, tire construction and tire technologies.
At the successful completion of each training module, the trainee is able to download a certification diploma signifying the user is now properly trained in each of those respective areas. Also, at the conclusion of all testing, trainees are awarded a tire rebate coupon and a gift certificate good toward the purchase of Toyo Tires merchandise.
We are presently undergoing a complete redesign of the ToyoTraining site that will be re-launched with new video updates, new training modules and a much more robust interactive experience.
Yokohama EXCEED Website Training, Commercial EXCEED Program
Alan Holtschneider, senior manager, Marketing Communications, Yokohama Tire Corp.
Excellence Through Certification & Education (EXCEED) is Yokohama’s interactive, self-directed website training program for Yokohama consumer and commercial dealers. With EXCEED, dealers expand their knowledge, learn how to recommend the perfect set of Yokohamas for their customer needs and even experience a simulated customer exchange to help coach them through commonly asked questions.
The training is completely Web-based and allows dealers to prioritize according to what is relevant in their market. It can also be completed at the dealer’s own pace.
EXCEED gives dealers 24/7 access to information on Yokohama products, including 360-degree product photography, and any new products launched. The information is easy to find with benefits of every tire explained clearly to make the dealers highly knowledgeable.
For Commercial EXCEED, it also acts as a portal to many more resources that Yokohama offers to its dealers. Some of these include our proprietary Fuel Savings Calculator, Inflation Pressure Calculator and our Digital Asset Management System that allows dealers access to various marketing assets by Yokohama.
The amount of time it takes to complete EXCEED varies depending on the dealer’s knowledge of Yokohama. It is designed in small modules to take all at one time or incrementally, given the time they have available.
At the end of the training course, dealers become EXCEED-certified. The more our dealers know about Yokohama’s tire products, the more they can help their customers select the right tire for their specific needs. This, in turn, helps our dealers succeed in their business by selling more Yokohama tires.
The EXCEED training for consumer dealers has had its release V2.0 launch late last year, which introduced several enhancements. These included: an expanded “Tireology” section and new selling skills module; advanced software to track employee training progress; and profile page detailing completed or in-progress sections.
In March of this year, we took what we learned from the consumer version and launched the commercial version of EXCEED, offering the same high level of training to our commercial dealers with added functionality never before introduced. ■