When it comes to training tire dealers, Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. is looking to arm dealers with all the information they need to know about the company’s products. And in 2023 the tiremaker has made it a goal to do that in a fun, engaging way.
Enter mobile video games.
Toyo’s new T3+ Games on the Go training is a mobile-based platform that revolves around short bursts of information. With videos, games and quizzes the tiremaker is breaking down all the details of its product offerings into small bites.
Wendy Nicolle, senior manager of product marketing and dealer support for Toyo, says T3+ is a complement to Toyo’s longstanding T3 training program, which offers in-depth video lessons over a 20-minute span. Those sessions are designed for tire dealers to sit down in front of a desktop computer and focus on the specific tire or topic at hand. They’re housed in Toyo’s dealer portal, the same place dealers order tires and point-of-purchase materials.
But users typically take a training class once, pass a test, and earn a certificate along with a rebate or rewards to redeem for Toyo merchandise.
Robert "Sonny" McDonald, Toyo’s senior national trainer, says, “It’s a nice thing to start with, but it’s like a one-and-done type of thing.”
McDonald says using a video game model and mobile technology opens the door to recurrent messaging. He says T3+ allows Toyo “to constantly reinforce our message. We didn’t want to be a one-and-done type of program.”
Nicolle says the site’s analytics show that’s what has happened with the T3 platform. “Once you learn all the modules, there’s really no reason to come back.”
She says T3+ is constantly evolving. New games are added each week, and there are quarterly contests among all players and a leaderboard showing those who have earned the most points. Toyo rewards the top 100 users every quarter with prizes.
McDonald says he thought about his own 22-year-old daughter as the team was creating the program. “If she can’t do something on her mobile phone, and if It’s not short verse, she just won’t do it,” he said. “I hate to use the cliché, but it’s Tic Toc learning, or Instagram learning. Short bursts of one or two minutes. But we also want to make learning fun.”
In those small sessions, Toyo can break down the basics of a particular tire or even a broader category in a series of videos or a string of trivia questions. But it’s also “a good way for us to get our messages out quickly, because we can make these games on demand,” McDonald says.
That means Toyo can highlight stories from a weekend of off-road racing activities or other lifestyle events. “This gives us a lot of flexibility to reach our audience,” he says.
And because it’s built on a mobile platform, it’s a flexible resource for tire dealers, too. The T3+ platform is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That means a tire dealer or technician “on a lunch break can play a Toyo game and learn something about Toyo.”
Reinforcing the technical details
Just because it’s designed in a fun format doesn’t mean Toyo is offering serious information. Nicolle says there are games that cover consumer tires and commercial tires, as well as basics about the Toyo brand. There also are games that cover technical details, such as:
- load inflation tables,
- speed ratings,
- minimum replacement requirements for an OE tire, and
- how to plus size.
“These are things that Sonny teaches (in person) that we are able to teach on T3+,” Nicolle says. “Those are critical bits of information.”
And while the platform features a national leaderboard of players, Toyo can also assign a specific game to all of the employees in a single dealership. Or, Nicolle says a training module can be offered to an entire wholesale distributor, all the way down to a single store.
McDonald says one example of that kind of tailored training could revolve around Toyo’s winter products. Dealers in certain markets don’t need to brush up on winter tire specifics, so Toyo could focus the reach of its winter T3+ games on tire dealers in appropriate markets.
“We can customize games to meet those dealers’ needs,” he says. “That’s the beauty of this platform. We can build games on demand, on the go, anytime.”
Toyo can also monitor which questions are stumping users. Nicolle adds, “We have robust analytics that can show us where people are having trouble.”
Earlier this year Toyo introduced its newest all-weather tire, the Celsius II, and Nicolle says the team noticed users were getting several of the questions for that product wrong. They flagged that as “an opportunity to reinforce that as we head into fall.”
It’s also an opportunity to remind users of the full-length trainings available on Toyo’s T3 platform. She suspects users were failing because they hadn’t invested the time in the longer session. The two platforms are designed to reinforce each other and give users a well-rounded education on all things Toyo.
McDonald says Toyo is also watching when users play the Toyo games. In the first quarter after it was released, one player at the top of the leaderboard was spending three hours a day on the platform. But Toyo also noticed that “gameplay drops off on the weekends dramatically,” so the company started offering extra points and a special badge to their “weekend warrior” players.
After spending a year building the T3+ platform, the goal now is to make sure tire dealers and their staffs take advantage of all the tools built into it.
“We’re definitely in growth mode,” McDonald says.