ATLANTA (Aug. 28, 2006) — Kauffman Tire Inc. plans to continue growing its fledgling Treadmaxx marketing program, hoping to repeat its 115-dealer growth from this past year.
Started in January 2005, Treadmaxx counted 185 participating retail dealers later that year and 300 in mid-2006. Stephen Kowski, Kauffman's advertising manager, said the Atlanta-based wholesaler is hitting the pavement, branching out in its regions to talk to dealers one on one.
“We still feel it's very much of a people business and people buy from people type of deal,” he said.
Some of the dealerships that have signed up so far, he added, weren't previously Kauffman customers. “We were able to entice them over to us,” Mr. Kowski said. “Most of them were existing customers.”
The Treadmaxx program includes many features of other marketing groups, including marketing support, year-end rebates and incentive trips, programs with vendors for direct mail, computers, parts, batteries, oil and uniforms, nationwide warranties and payroll services. Dealers are subject to a monthly unit buying requirement.
So far the program doesn't include similar signage among participants, but Mr. Kowski said that could come in the future.
“The unique thing about our plan is (it's) multi-branded,” he said. “It's not just one particular tire manufacturer, it's multi-branded based not only on major brands but also private label tires. So all the tires that we sell are part of the program.”
Offered brands include Goodyear, Dunlop, Continental, General, Pirelli, Toyo, Cooper, Vanderbilt, Cordovan, Mastercraft and Kumho, among others.
In addition to growing its ranks of dealers, Kauffman Tire also hopes to expand its services offered through Treadmaxx. Mr. Kowski said in 2006 the firm set up deals for its members with Myers Tire & Supply Co., ADVO direct mail and Dell Inc.
“We'd probably look for similar growth on that side as well for this year,” he said.
But even with the growth the program has seen, Mr. Kowski said he's encountering a few challenges. A major one, he said, has been rapidly rising tire costs. Dealers are much more inventory-conscious and trying to stock much less than usual. That presents both a logistical challenge for Kauffman as well as a needed customer-service effort to help dealers do this effectively.
A second challenge has been how to get the word out to more dealers about Treadmaxx. “Not every one of our dealers is on the Internet or has e-mail, which we can communicate a lot faster and more effectively that way,” he said. “It's just making sure everybody's on the same page.”