Bridgestone Pilots Subscription-Based Service Platform
Would your customers pay a monthly fee for the delivery of tire and vehicle maintenance services? Bridgestone Americas Inc. is in the process of finding out. Since late-November, the company has been piloting what it calls a "subscription-based model" in Nashville, Tenn. In this interview, Riccardo Cichi, president and chief sales officer of Bridgestone’s Americas Tire Group, discusses the program and why he believes dealers will want to participate in it.
He also provides deeper insight into the tiremaker’s long-term future mobility strategy, which Bridgestone executives discussed during the company’s recent Consumer Tire Business Meeting. “We can capitalize on this together,” says Cichi.
MTD: Can you elaborate on what Bridgestone’s new subscription-based model looks like, how it will work and when the company plans to roll it out?
Cichi: In Europe, we developed a program called Mobox, which is a subscription model. You pay x amount and we take care of everything. We take care of the tires, we’ll rotate them, (perform) flat repairs - any issue you may have. So from there, we brought it back to the U.S.
We’ll give (consumers) the option to pay a monthly fee for any maintenance-related service. It could include tire rotation, it could be brakes, it could be oil changes, it could be emergency roadside assistance. This would be a service where we’d take care of everything and manage it through a subscription model. The concept is to give an option to the consumer as they want more service, especially now.
We’re in the testing phase. We obviously want to see how the market reacts. But we are accelerating and trying to see the feedback and market data and everything that goes with that. We plan to launch in 2021. This is what we’re working on.
MTD: Are you testing the concept at Bridgestone company-owned stores, dealers or a combination of both?
Cichi: We’ve started with Bridgestone stores and obviously want to work with our (dealer) partners. It’s important that we get feedback from everybody. We don’t want this in any way, shape or form to be viewed as competition (by our dealers). This is something that we can do together.
If this market is going to come to us, how can we - as partners - capture this? So we’re trying to see how we can do it together. We might have to tweak it, we might have to change it - but based on the test, we will see what we can do before we scale it. Nov. 21 was our start date. So we are in the midst of doing it.
MTD: So dealers will be part of the pilot, as well?
Cichi: Absolutely. That’s the way we have it set up in Europe and that’s the way we want to set it up here. We have to see what interest there is. Some dealers may already offer some of these services, so we don’t want to step on anybody’s foot. But this is something we will be evaluating with our dealers.
MTD: Can you describe some of the other things that the company is doing to move itself into the future mobility ecosystem?
Cichi: We have a vision of a future where mobility is going to be safer, more efficient, more sustainable and definitely more profitable. These are things we’re working on in terms of mobility solutions as an offering. It’s a bold vision that requires collaboration with our strategic partners, so we will continue to invest in our core tire business, while at the same time creating mobility solutions.
The digital world has really accelerated. Our core tire business still remains. We need to invest there - in technology and everything that goes with it. But there are other sources of service that are coming our way. That’s what we see.
MTD: What we’ve learned over the past nine months is that many dealers have openly embraced new digital platforms and technologies, from things like text to pay and online scheduling and beyond. Is this the right time for pursuing new models and platforms? The consumer seems ready and the dealer seems more open to it, as well…
Cichi: We can capitalize on this together. More and more information will be coming from tires in real-time, whether it’s temperature, the condition of the road - whatever it may be. Vehicles will become more important sources of data. And service delivery is the critical piece of the value chain - where value creation occurs and customer relationships are built. Dealers will play a critical role.
Bridgestone believes strongly in the need for physical locations in the future of mobility. This is how it all comes together. And over time, we will be able to predict when service is needed and prescribe when actions will need to be taken. Of course, there has to be a need and there has to be a want from the consumer, but we are convinced this is going to come.
We started this journey three or four years ago, but now it’s accelerating because everything is coming around. We talk about (Bridgestone’s ) CASE (concept): Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric technologies. They are merging. The real world and digital technologies are converging to drive change at a pace we've never seen before.
Boston Consulting Group says that by 2030, 50% of vehicles sold will be electric or hybrid. All of these technologies are coming together. And now it’s picking up speed. We’re going to be there with all of our customers.
Dealers will play a fundamental role. Dealers will be critical in everything we do. They are part of the team. We want to co-create together and capitalize on these opportunities. The independent tire dealer will play a critical role in delivering these important solutions.
“There are so many changes happening concurrently and I think COVID-19 has accelerated a lot of them,” Cichi added. “And more and more things are coming into play. The world is changing and there’s no turning back. At least that’s the way we see it. The bottom line is how can we capture this and how can we co-create value?”