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Good as GOLD

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Good as GOLD

Incentive trips are generally the setting for companies to thank their top dealers for the business and spell out plans for the upcoming year. Continental Tire the Americas LLC (CTA) did just that in Nassau, Bahamas, last month with 260 of its GOLD dealers.

The company also addressed its supply and fill-rate issues from the outset of the meeting. The dealers were told the company is investing heavily in its operations to increase supply. Bill Caldwell, vice president of marketing and sales, said the company’s $500 million investment in its new passenger and light truck tire plant in Sumter, S.C., is one of several things the company is doing to increase supply.

With the Sumter investment, CTA will have invested more than $1 billion in manufacturing and product development in the United States, Mexico, Ecuador and Brazil since 2006. Caldwell told dealers that the company also has worked hard to re-vamp its Continental brand tire line-up and is continuing to introduce new lines. “Our commitment to you is to refresh our tire lines and place new products in segments we are not in right now.”

Caldwell added that the company was working on long-term marketing plans to increase brand awareness in order to have more consumers “come in your doors asking for our products. We don’t want you to have the 100% burden of selling our tires.”

“GOLD dealers are our conduit to the consumer,” Travis Roffler, director of marketing, told Modern Tire Dealer. “Our goal is to be the ‘go to’ brand for our dealers.”

He acknowledged that most dealers are participating in several associate dealer programs, and said his company must constantly refresh its products and continuously build the brand awareness to the consumer. The company has locked in new product launches for the next three years.

In terms of marketing the brands, Roffler told dealers that social media was most “definitely the 800-pound gorilla in the room, and at the end of the day, we want to use it to drive buyers to our website.”

Roffler said that after product-related searches, the “dealer locator” was the most used page on CTA’s website. The company wants to expand its Facebook exposure and have more than one million “likes” by the end of 2013, up from 25,000 at the present time.

The Continental brand is continuing its Grand-Am racing and Major League Soccer sponsorships this year. General tire marketing continues to focus on off-road racing.

Roffler emphasized that the company has simplified its on-line marketing website, www.contilink.com, for GOLD dealers. He said the company has consolidated the way the site functions, and the new design will keep dealers from needing to open multiple screens to get information by making it available at just one site.

Throughout the duration of the trip, dealers were given individual training sessions on utilizing the new website features.

A key improvement to the site allows GOLD dealers not only to track their purchases, but also to compare them to the levels they need to reach to receive bonuses.

“We tell them what they need to do in order to get to the next level,” said Madonna Conroy, CTA’s marketing programs administrator. The bonuses include:

• quarterly cash rewards (75 units a quarter).

• an anniversary bonus, which applies to a dealer after his first 365 days in the program are completed (minimum qualifying bonus: 300 units).

• an annual volume bonus.

• a growth bonus versus the previous year (minimum growth of 10%).

• an incentive trip (2,000 units).

Volume bonuses are based on three levels: Standard (700 units), Select (1,200) and Elite (2,000). The bonus per tire ranges from 75 cents to $1.25; for example, an Elite associate dealer who purchased 2,000 Continental and General tires over the course of the year would receive a volume bonus of $2,500. Continental also would pick up the tab for two to the GOLD Dealer incentive trip; the April 13-18, 2013, trip is a Royal Caribbean cruise aboard the Jewel of the Sea.    ■

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