MEMPHIS, Tenn.-American Car Care Centers Inc., which expects to increase its retail membership to 850 by January, has added a host of new programs this year, General Manager Dennis DeLeonard said. Additionally, the nationwide marketer hopes to improve the images of its member dealerships with new advertising and marketing packages, an employee certification process, six revamped private brand tire lines and by becoming ``partners for profit'' with major companies like Michelin Americas Small Tires (MAST), Pro Cut, FMC Corp. and Big A Auto Parts (which is incorporated as APS Inc.).
Much of ACCC's 1994 focus comes from the integration of programs with MAST, which began producing the company's American Radial tires in January, after the account was shifted from Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s Dayton Tire unit, Mr. DeLeonard said.
MAST's vacuum-vented curing process removes tire ``teats,'' leaving a ``clean, crisp cosmetic appearance'' with no need for trimming, he said.
MAST is now producing the American Silver 5000 intermediate S-rated and American Bronze low-cost passenger radials, the American G/T Grand Turbo all-weather performance tire and the American A/T Prospector and American A/S light truck tires.
The tire maker is scheduled to begin producing the American Gold 6000 luxury touring tire in June, completing ACCC's private brand line-up.
``I believe we now have one of the most competitive product offerings in the private brand business and can look forward to a strong sales performance for the new American Radial's product line,'' Jim Bauer, chairman of ACCC's product planning committee, said during the company's marketing meeting in Cancun, Mexico, in February.
The ACCC-MAST partnership also allows the U.S marketer to tap into MAST advertising programs by placing its logo on Michelin's major brand TV advertisements, according to Richard Abernethy, chairman of ACCC's advertising and promotion committee.
ACCC also is producing its own TV spots, scheduled to be released in June, and already has debuted a series of new radio commercials, point-of-sale packages and store banners, he said.
To further advance retail dealerships' professional images among consumers, ACCC has implemented its first nationwide employee training certification program, covering the company's history, its tire and service warranties, credit card program and tire lines.
Mr. DeLeonard said he would like to see every ACCC employee who has contact with consumers become certified under the training program.
The company also has introduced just-in-time parts delivery from Big A Auto Parts and equipment buying programs from FMC and Pro Cut.
ACCC took a large leap toward its membership goal for the year when it signed Simi Valley, Calif.-based Tire Pros in April. That company's 84 retail locations, all in California, increased ACCC's membership to 741 and gave it a presence in all 50 states.
``(Tire Pros') attitude is very much like ours in that they believe the independents are the ones who fuel growth. They want to help the dealer survive,'' Mr. DeLeonard said.
The company is seeking that same focus in the ``two or three other distributors we are looking for this year'' to fill in areas where ACCC believes it needs greater representation, particularly in the Midwest, Mr. DeLeonard said.