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Tire training: big business in Europe

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Tire training: big business in Europe

The diverse concept of business training has always been a particular point of interest for me. During my 23-year career within the international tire industry as a news journalist, editor and business media consultant I have witnessed the continual progressive growth of training facilities and techniques develop throughout Europe.

In my early days working within the European tire market, I can remember being impressed by the enthusiasm of training professionals.

During the 1990s, this was mainly generated by tire manufacturers and in particular the major A brands such as Michelin, Bridgestone and Goodyear and a unique European tire school whose main objective was to develop a clear understanding of both rubber and tire technology.

However, in Europe during the last 20 years there has been a radical development in terms of tire training which now encompasses all aspects of the market from manufacturing to tire brand identification and retail sales.

In fact, it would be correct to state that the intensive art of professional training now has become a crucial part of the industry’s progress for the future. Of course there are some people in the tire market who still doubt if investment in training courses actually pays dividends. But even this aspect of doubt is now being slowly eradicated with the emergence of a growing number of companies in the wholesale and retail sectors setting up their own training schedules and programs to overcome expensive outside training tuition costs.

Seeing the need

Of course we must remember that Europeans are a confident race by nature and therefore (in some cases) do not respond well to being taught when they consider themselves to be highly proficient — and staff in the tire industry are no exception. However, with the introduction of the (some would say) controversial tire labeling legislation and increasing technological advancements in tire design and technical innovation, training within the tire industry in Europe has risen to a new and even higher level of importance for the future.

I have noticed that many tire companies throughout the whole of Europe now are implementing their own individual style of training often through their own technical personnel. In fact, it is surprising just how many tire wholesalers and retailers are establishing their own product and sale service training programs which are tailored to their own individual requirements as opposed to using the services of outside professional training companies.

This enterprising trend is not just confined to the European tire market as many other businesses in tire accessory and garage-related machinery are also adopting this “in-house” method of training their staff.

Normal business practice

I recently spent some valuable time with a sales and training specialist working for a wheel alignment manufacturer in the UK which gave me an honest insight into how the aspect of training within the tire and automotive market in Europe is changing.

Gone are the days when training staff was something companies would only carry out when absolutely necessary. Now it is normally seen as an absolutely essential part of normal business practice.

From tire manufacturers and wholesalers to tire retailers and even car dealerships the tuition of tire brands and care plus safety features (due to the EU labeling legislation) is carried out in-house or by the supplier of tire brands or equipment.

There is no doubt that tire technology (on a global basis) will continue to break new boundaries in terms of innovative developments for the future which will take tire training facilities to an even higher level of intensity. Even now right across Europe there are a growing number of equity tire retailers and wholesalers following the established lead of tire manufacturers in running their own academy’s tire training.

I also have spoken with several leading tire retailing groups throughout Europe who all state that in their opinion there has been an absolute necessity to open their own training facilities where all their staff from various branches can be taught about proper tire care and brand sales features.

Taking everything into consideration, I firmly believe that in Europe, tire and tire accessory training is now moving forward progressively.   ■

John Stone has been working within the global tire industry for the past 20 years. In 2004 he launched his own consulting company, Sapphire Media Services, which caters to business media clients around the globe. Stone also writes for tire and automotive-related publications in Europe, South Africa and Asia.

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