Continental Gold Adds 200 Dealers

April 10, 2024

Consistency, partnership and listening to feedback from its customers was the overriding theme from Continental Tire the Americas LLC executives during the Continental Gold Dealer meeting in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Chris Charity, vice president of sales, U.S. PLT replacement business, started the event by saying, “We really listen to a lot of feedback, whether it's this week or throughout the year, and try to understand and incorporate how we go to market with the program or improving products or features and benefits. So thank you for all your feedback.”

Continental’s Gold Dealer program currently has over 4,000 rooftops represented by just under 3,000 owners, according to Charity. He said the program signed up roughly 200 new dealers during the past year.

The importance of the Gold Dealer program to Continental is critical and making improvements to it for the benefit of both the dealers and Continental is ongoing, he added.

Charity said Continental is looking for the “right partners” when signing new dealers to the program. He said the company is intent on bringing the right balance of OE and replacement tires into its portfolio to bring value to its customers.

More from the Continental Gold meeting: Continental told its Gold dealers the company is launching new products, and consolidating tire lines, in 2024.

In looking at current, overall market conditions, Charity said the first quarter was stable and he looks for a modest one percent growth in overall business for PLT sales in the U.S. during 2024.

Ron Sinclair, director of sales and distribution, told dealers that the company does not have any company-owned stores “and so for us at Continenta,l it's all about building the value proposition of our brands and our products and our program through our distributors to our dealers. If you don't succeed, if you don't grow, then we don't grow.”

Sinclair said the company is looking at three main attributes for its partnership with dealers — communication, collaboration and commitment.

“As you think about the decisions you make every day, it's all about 'Am I choosing the right partner? Who's the right partner for me to grow my business - to pass my business along to my family and to grow it?'” said Sinclair.

He said Continental is constantly looking for feedback and communication from its dealers to improve its products and programs.

Travis Roffler, director of marketing, said that what Continental does is about perspective. “It drives what we all do and it's in your business and it's in our families and it drives what we do." That includes "how we do it and the perspective of this team is to provide world-class products for you to sell (and) to grow your business. Our marketing team works to drive consumers into your dealerships.”

Roffler said the company will continue its sponsorship of Major League Soccer (MLS) that started in 2020. The sponsorship is a cornerstone of the Continental brand. It is due to expire in 2026, but Roffler says negotiations are ongoing to extend it indefinitely.

The reason Continental is excited about MLS is the league's audience has grown 158% in the past three years, with recent interest driven by Lionel Messi joining the league. Apple TV has signed a contract to broadcast 535 MLS games next year. The league currently has 29 teams, with plans to expand to 32 teams by 2030.

Continental is the official tire of MLS, as well as with all 29 teams, which, according to Roffler, means no other tire company can have signage. He mentioned the numerous tire companies that have signage at Major League Baseball stadiums.

Roffler said the company’s research shows that while the Continental brand has 3% to 4% market share among MLS fans who have attended an event and “been activated” with Continental’s on site hospitality and signage, that number stands at 30%.

The company also is continuing its sponsorship of NCAA College Basketball. That will start with 13 different pre-season tournaments, ending with Conference Championships for the Big 10, Big East and Big 12 tournaments.

Turning to the General brand, Continental is continuing its sponsorship of Major League Fishing (MLF) as well as its ARCA racing series spsonsorship. The General brand’s tagline of “Delivers” will continue to be used, as well.

Roffler encouraged Gold Dealers to participate in all of the sponsored events that are in their local markets, as the purpose of those sponsorships is to drive customers to their businesses.

Major consumer promotions for the General brand also are planned for April, September and October, while Continental consumer promotions are planned for May through August and again in November, said Roffler.

Alex Henderson, Gold Dealer program manager, detailed enhancements the company has made based on feedback from dealers. A main emphasis was on the credit card program, which Henderson said provided dealers who used the credit card rebate program with “a 70% lift” over those who did not in sales.

Next year, the Gold Dealer trip will be held May 5-11 in Cap Cana, Dominican Republic, Henderson announced.