FULLERTON, Calif.—The acronym "rpm" stands for revolutions per minute and is a measure of an engine's operating speed. But Yokohama Tire Corp. (YTC) has another type of "rpm" it hopes will help dealers "rev" up sales and profits.
In Yokohama's case, "rpm" stands for "rewarding performance membership"—a reward and benefit program for its direct and associate performance tire dealers.
The program includes gift money that sales associates can redeem for hundreds of items; a quarterly sweepstakes featuring a variety of trips; and a CD-ROM-based sales training program called Exceed.
Rpm, which took effect in July, already is doing "very, very well," and YTC expects the program to really take off in 2001, said Dan King, the tire maker's director of marketing and corporate sales. "We're even hearing (of interest in rpm) from dealers who aren't even direct or associate dealers."
Qualified retail sales employees receive four "incentive" dollars for each Yokohama performance tire sold; wholesale salespersons earn one incentive dollar for each tire sold.
The incentive is available only for sales of certain lines and sizes of Yokohama high-performance tires: Parada, AVS Sport, AVS db decibel, AVS S/T, A520, A032R, AVID H4/V4 (16- and 17-inch sizes) and AVID T4 (16- and 17-inch sizes).
To qualify for the program, participants must successfully complete an updated version of the company's Exceed sales training program and pass a test. The CD-ROM-based program contains video training segments that include interactivity, immediate feedback, new information and self-graded tests.
Once a participant completes the training and passes the test, YTC then contacts the World Wide Web site Flooz.com, which sets up an account for the employee.
The employee can log on to Flooz.com to redeem the incentive credits and select items from more than 60 name-brand online retailers.
"That was one of the things we really were interested in—trying to make this program unique," Mr. King said.
Rpm member-dealers also are entered in a quarterly drawing for a trip to events such as the Tokyo Auto Show or the American LeMans auto race in Sydney, Australia.
To maintain rpm status, dealers must purchase a minimum of 20 qualifying HP tire units and average 250 or more of those units per year.
YTC hopes the rpm program will continue to build the company's position in the performance tire market. Mr. King wouldn't release sales figures, but said Yokohama's performance tire sales exceeded industry growth in 2000.
(The Rubber Manufacturers Association expects shipments of H/V/Z speed-rated tires to grow at an annual rate of 8.7 percent through 2002.)