‘Have we got a program for you’
There are more tire manufacturers with associate dealer programs now than there were just a few years ago. This trend is a reflection of more than competition among major tire manufacturers; it also underscores the strength of independent tire dealers, and their importance to their suppliers.
In order for you to see what tire companies have to offer you, we asked them to describe their associate dealer programs. Some answered the questions directly. Others chose to highlight their programs in their own way. One, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., declined to participate.
Here, in one place and in their own words, is an update on what they have to offer you.
Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC: Affiliated Retailer Nationwide Network
Bridgestone recently combined its Affiliated Dealer, TireStarz and Family Retail Dealer programs under one umbrella in the United States. The new program will encompass more than 2,500 points of sale, according to the company.
“We’ve listened to our customers and designed one of the most comprehensive retail dealer programs in the industry,” says John Baratta, president of consumer replacement tire sales. “The Bridgestone Affiliated Retailer Nationwide Network is the complete package backed by world-class products and services and a nationwide tire protection plan and repair warranty program.”
The program will offer network dealers the following:
• multi-brand product offerings,
• state-of-the-art sell-out programs, and
• discounted merchandise and services from nationally recognized vendors.
The program also provides access to a support team of dedicated Bridgestone Americas retail experts, including local, regional and national sales support, education specialists and a dedicated retail marketing group.
Continental Tire the Americas LLC: GOLD Retailer Program
Only independent tire retailers are eligible for Continental’s GOLD Program. Retailers are defined as “any location that sells to the end consumer and has the equipment in the shop to balance and mount tires.” To date, there are 2,612 dealers participating.
“One of the most undervalued components of the Continental GOLD Program is the fact that our customers, whether retail or wholesale, do not have to compete with us,” says the company.
“Continental Tire does not have any company-owned or operated retail locations or wholesale distribution centers. Continental is the only major tire manufacturer (that) does not have one or the other or even both.”
There are no participation fees for the Continental GOLD Program.
Continental recently launched a new Dealer Marketing Suite designed to help dealers boost their business potential. The suite provides access to promotional and advertising support that can be customized for the local level through the use of marketing funds.
The Dealer Marketing Suite allows GOLD dealers to order point-of-purchase material, drive local traffic to their stores with the use of direct mail, create custom ads, and gain access to potential customers in their area.
This program is designed to help GOLD dealers manage their marketing efforts, customize their advertising, build a loyal customer base and most importantly, grow their business.
GOLD dealers are periodically sent special offers. For example, double rewards for attaining target numbers.
Participating dealers also receive point-of-purchase kits for all Continental and General tire promotions.
GOLD dealers earn a set amount of marketing funds for each marketing line purchased. GOLD dealers have the option of using their marketing funds to purchase tire displays: free-standing tire display (one to six tires), wall mounted tire display (one to two tires), a menu board, indoor signage, clocks, and ceiling drums, just to name a few.
As for signage: “We offer face replacement, single-sided signs and double-sided signs in multiple sizes. These signs can be mounted on poles or a building. For those GOLD dealers who have earned or purchased outdoor signage, Continental Tire will send an inspector to check local zoning laws, to inspect current pole(s), and load bearing requirements. We will also have the new pole(s) and/or signs installed.”
Continental also offers a website with business tools. ContiLink.com is a “one-stop shop” for GOLD dealers.
GOLD dealers can access all business tools through ContiLink.com. including new sales tracking tools, a signage program, a showroom program, the Engage360 training site, the RPM (Real Performance Motivation) retail sales motivator (in which GOLD dealers can earn points for each marketing line sold and redeem those points), the new dealer marketing suite (DMT), national account/government business, and national promotions.
Falken Tire Corp.: Fanatic
“We’ve got 30 distributors across the country that are eligible based on a minimum annual purchase requirement of $1 million,” says Scott Batty, project manager. “They also have to agree to stock five of our eligible (consumer tire) marketing lines, of which there are 11 total.
“To participate in the program from the distributor level, those are the requirements. We do ask that they stock a minimum of 8,000 units per distribution center (DC). They have multiple DCs across the country and we want to make sure there is ample inventory in each of those.
“As of today, we have 23 of the 30 signed up. It’s not a retail program; it’s for our regional wholesalers. It’s a program that’s designed to enhance loyalty between our customer, the distributor, and his customer, the dealer or retailer. In other words, the retailer would sign with a given distributor to earn cash rewards on eligible Falken tires purchased from that distributor.”
What does the program mean to tire dealers? Cash rewards, says Batty. “We’ve got what we feel is a very aggressive cash payout schedule. It is a three-tier program, beginning at 100 units per quarter. We call that level ‘Fan.’ At 250 it’s called ‘Fan Plus.’ ‘Fanatic’ is 400 units per quarter.”
There are no participation fees whatsoever. “The dealer’s commitment is we require a 24-unit opening order and they have to agree to display three of our marketing lines and they cannot wholesale tires — they have to be a retailer.”
Two things make Falken’s program unique, says Batty. “First it is truly a quarterly program which means there is no ‘annualizations’; there is no opportunity for catch-up. At the end of the quarter it ends, and in the new quarter you start fresh. The other thing that makes our program unique is we tend to manipulate the cash payouts quarterly — very aggressively to promote certain lines of our products.
“For example, when we launch our new FK1453 in July, we’ll substantially increase our payouts in each of those levels. The payouts likely will change every quarter. Dealers won’t be signing up with Falken; they’ll be signing up with their wholesale distributors. It’s a dealer program, it’s just that the relationship isn’t direct with them, it’s with their distributor. I believe every program out there is that way.
“Falken has a direct relationship with a retailer, such as Discount Tire, or Sears or TBC. Those programs are usually funded through co-op monies. Associate dealer programs typically are run through wholesale distributors and they go out and solicit the program to their dealers. We will pay the cash rewards directly from Falken to those dealers. There won’t be any pass–through to the wholesalers.”
As for advertising programs, “At this point there is no provision for co-op advertising. It is strictly a cash rewards and then what I call the fluff. To be specific, we are very aggressive with our POS materials, wearables, and we have a new express ship program that they’ll be eligible for. Top performers can earn four free Falken tires annually. The cash rewards for us are really the focus. We want to be as aggressive as any manufacturer out there with cash rewards.”
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.: G3 Express, Tire & Service Network
Only “Authorized Goodyear Dealers” whose business models are aligned with Goodyear are eligible. Interested dealers need to go through Goodyear’s nomination process, which includes:
1. completion of a “satisfactory” facility review completed by the Goodyear field sales representative;
2. successfully completing the Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly product training;
3. commitment to retail 2,000 Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly tires annually, per location;
4. participation in the annual Tire & Service Network advertising campaign. Dealers have six advertising packages from which to choose, and they can use their Goodyear co-op dollars to pay for the advertising package they chose.
There are 2,300 Tire & Service Network locations, 1,752 independent Goodyear dealers and 548 company-owned stores participating in the program “The (retail) program is just launching in Canada, and we expect to sign approximately 300 Canadian dealer locations to the Tire & Service Network in 2012,” says the company.
There is no fee for the Tire & Service Program. There is a charge for the dealers’ participation in the Tire & Service Network advertising campaign. The cost varies depending on the advertising package the dealer selects. “Most dealers use their Goodyear co-op dollars to pay for their advertising package.”
Goodyear’s Tire & Service Network Program supports both the tire and service side of a dealer’s business. Here are the unique benefits:
1. A “Premium” listing on the goodyear.com Store Locator (Tire & Service Network Dealers show up first). “We drive in market shoppers for both tires and service to their locations through our Store Locator on goodyear.com.”
2. “Consumer rebates (save up to $160) are offered 365 days a year at our Tire & Service Network Dealers’ 15 weeks of ‘Exclusive’ National Promotions that are available only through our Tire & Service Network Dealers.
3. “Associate spiffs are offered 365 days a year for our Tire & Service Network Dealers.”
4. There is a dedicated Tire & Service Network section on goodyear.com that talks about automotive service.
5. Both tire and service training are available.
6. Tire & Service Network Dealers are able to leverage the buying power of a Network of 2,300 locations.
7. The Tire & Service Network is a North American Program, whereby participating dealers in the U.S. and Canada belong to the same network.
8. Tire & Service Network Dealers have a dedicated Goodyear field sales representative.
Hankook Tire America Corp.: The One Program
The recently launched The One (“One” for short) associate dealer program was introduced at Hankook’s 2012 Partners Day meeting in January. Associate Dealers that are selected and approved must meet Hankook’s qualification requirements.
Hankook outlined its benefits as follows:
Quarterly cash benefits. You can earn cash back for your sales. Your cash rewards are limitless and diverse. You can earn not only cash based on your sales volume, but also an additional bonus for your premium sales. You’ll get paid for your premium sales even if you don’t achieve your quarterly volume rewards. “It’s simple. We’ll reward you with a check every quarter you achieve your sales objectives for that quarter,” says the company.
Signage: Once your enrollment has been accepted into Hankook’s One Program, you will receive an initial startup kit of helpful Hankook materials to enhance your store and attract your customers. You’ll be awarded additional displays and signage as your purchases increase and you reach new levels.
Cooperative marketing: Accrue marketing points for your purchases and use them to purchase Hankook POS materials online for your business needs. Your marketing points will begin to accrue once your purchases exceed 250 units per quarter. You can use your accrued balance to purchase from an array of Hankook marketing materials on the new website.
The company’s Hankook One Ad Builder website makes it easy for you to create and build your ads, too.
Hankook One dealers can participate in consumer promotions that include seasonal specials throughout the year.
You’ll also be able to earn travel awards at the end of the year based on your year-end purchases and level achieved. Use your travel certificate to book your next vacation or have the option to convert it into co-op points you can use toward your business.
“In addition to earning travel awards for your purchases throughout the year, you can be invited to exclusive ‘Major League Baseball Nights’ and enjoy a night at the ballpark on us,” the company notes.
By enrolling as a One dealer, you can also be invited to visit Hankook’s Technical Center in Akron, Ohio.
Additional online training and educational opportunities will be available on Hankook’s new Empowerment website.
Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc.: Fuel
Enrollment in the Kumho associate dealer program is subject to the approval of Kumho. Direct Kumho dealers are not eligible to enroll in this program.
Associate dealers must be retail dealers only. Internet-based online stores without a physical retail store premise or car dealers purchasing tires to place on used cars waiting to be sold are not eligible. Associate dealers with more than 10% in wholesale sales also are not eligible to participate in this program.
There are 3,600 independent dealers participating in the Kumho Tire Premium Fuel Program.
“Our program only focuses on the UHP segment,” notes the company. “The most significant difference... is the low number of purchased units required to qualify and the high amount of pay out. You only need to purchase 12 units to qualify for $60. See entire details on the program at www.KumhoTireUSA.com/Fuel.
Michelin North America Inc.: Alliance Associate Dealer (AAD)
The Michelin Alliance Associate Dealer (AAD) program offers independent dealers opportunities for increased profits and streamlined processes through a user-friendly, interactive resource hub to conduct business online.
The AAD program is designed exclusively for Michelin’s independent dealers who purchase Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal and associate brand passenger and light truck replacement tires through Michelin’s nationwide network of Alliance distributors.
There are more than 4,500 retail points of sale in the program. They are served by more than 200 Alliance distributor points of distribution.
The 2012 program offers the following enhancements:
1. A business development fund to support dealer advertising and merchandising with more dealer-friendly guidelines that make it easier to plan, execute and claim reimbursement for advertising.
2. Tools to help AADs manage their business better and market their own “brand” in their community.
3. Financial incentives for dealers who increase their commitment to Michelin and BFGoodrich brands.
“We want to invest in those customers who are committed to selling our tires,” says Bob Schaffner, manager of wholesale distribution development for Michelin North America. “I want to reward the Alliance associate dealer for every tire (he or she) buys. Through our online program and direct deposits, the process will be quick, easy and provide the dealer constant visibility to its purchases and earnings.
“Over the past four years, AADs have outperformed the tire market standard and are important drivers in Michelin’s business,” says Schaffner.
Beyond the basics of the program, dealers have used such program benefits as the marketing fund to improve profitability and competitiveness within the market. The fund allows dealers to utilize Michelin’s marketing abilities and implement advertising and promotions in their dealerships, resulting in increased traffic.
Throughout the fourth quarter, the AAD Road Show will visit more than 40 cities across the country to review 2011 results and detail the plans for the 2012 AAD program.
Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp.: Driven Program
Any independent retailer who actively sells Toyo tires is eligible for Toyo’s Driven Program.
A 50-unit buy-in of any Toyo product qualifies the retailer to be a Driven dealer; Driven dealers who maintain 100 units or more per quarter will earn cash incentives on eligible products. More than 800 independent Toyo retailers nationwide have signed up for the program; Toyo’s wholesale partners (“Direct Dealers”) help implement it.
Driven dealers are supported with several different tools, including online training, point-of-purchase materials, a No Regrets Trial Offer and a listing in the Dealer Finder on toyotires.com.
What makes their program unique? “It offers the independent retailer the opportunity to earn cash incentives from a very profitable and trusted brand. They also will be able to take advantage of Toyo training programs, POP material, and national campaigns.”
Yokohama Tire Corp.: Advantage
All full-service retail dealers in the U.S. who market within a reasonable geographic radius from its retail location are eligible for the Advantage Program. Only purchases made for retail transactions are eligible.
Direct Yokohama dealers and franchisees associated with such dealers are not eligible. There are no participation fees.
“Yokohama offers the most comprehensive associate dealer program in the industry with easy participation and high value rewards,” says Ken Hsu, manager of dealer programs.
Yokohama’s advertising program is an uncapped 3% co-op program to eligible dealers. Cash rewards are paid quarterly and on all products to qualified dealers. Bonuses can be earned by the distributor sales staff.
An extensive collection of POP materials is also available for participating dealers. ■