ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill.-Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. is expanding its Affiliated Dealer Program for independent tire dealers this year by providing more educational materials and training, including tire and service certification. The changes are intended to further boost profits in the company's retail division, which had its best performance in 1993, according to Sunil Kumar, president of BFS retail operations.
During the company's annual district manager's meeting Jan. 20, BFS officials called the company's affiliated dealer program, which began in 1991, an ``unqualified success,'' adding 185 new dealers last year for a total of about 500 affiliated dealers.
This year, the company plans to expand the program through an improved automotive parts system, providing lower prices and 60-, 90- and 120-day payment plans on all parts purchased by affiliated dealers, according to Chip Franklin, manager, dealer parts sales.
The program, which provides, among others, Anco, Bosch, Dayco, Moog, Kendall and Gabriel automotive parts to participating dealers, also offers simplified ordering and inventory procedures and geographically sorted inventories based on vehicle registration mixes in various parts of the U.S. The ordering and delivery system is tied into the tire program.
Mr. Franklin said the automotive parts program, launched in January, has been ``well received'' by dealers.
BFS also intends to expand its national promotional campaign from 49 to 79 markets in 1994.
Last year, 500 affiliated and independent BFS dealers participated in the Super Event Advertising program, which is tied to increased tire and service demand periods, according to Mike Cox, manager of affiliated dealer operations.
The company declined to provide details of the advertising campaign.
In 1993, BFS said it experienced record profits in the retail division and its company-owned outlets ``served a record number of customers during the year while reaching the highest level of customer satisfaction in history.''
``The retail operations division reached a record level of profit, led by tire sales, which grew despite an overall flat industry,'' Mr. Kumar said, though the company declined to provide specific figures.
BFS President Kenji Shibata said the company also gained passenger and light truck market share.