PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic—Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc. is putting an emphasis on its re-fueled Premium Fuel Program. The tire maker began a 90-day re-enrollment on Dec. 9. David Koh, Kumho's marketing communications manager, said the Rancho-Cucamonga, Calif.-based tire marketer has made significant improvements to its dealer program over the last couple of years. Mr. Koh told Tire Business at the 2013 Kumho Tire Dealer Meeting in Punta Cana that “dealers have 11 other programs they are trying to manage and understand, and so for 2014, we want to remain consistent, but also make a lot of improvements.” The associate dealer program, which the company launched in 2007, has more than 5,000 dealers participating, but their “activity levels vary,” Mr. Koh said. The re-enrollment—the first time Kumho has done this since Fuel's inception — is aimed at helping the company's desire to boost engagement levels. “The goal of the associate dealer program is to elevate the program and be the industry leader in Tier 2,” he said. Kumho definitely wants all its dealers to re-enroll, Mr. Koh said, but the tire marketer wants to make sure that they are active in the Fuel program. He said the goal is to have some of the inactive dealerships that have not been as engaged to possibly “show some engagement and get back into the program.” He said dealers can opt out, but Kumho wants to show the improvements the company has been making to the program to entice them to recommit. If a dealer chooses not to re-enroll, they are opting out of the program. “We will work with our distributors to get back into the program,” Mr. Koh said. “We want to spoil them and make them feel special that they are part of a great program,” he added. Kirk Papazian, divisional vice president of sales, said the re-enrollment also helps the partnership between Kumho and its dealers because the company wants to work with dealers who are active in the program. “In an effort to greatly expose our brand to the consumer, we have to make sure that we've got productive dealers out there...” who “really know how to take the Kumho brand to market and to the consumer,” he added. Mr. Koh said Kumho is revamping all program materials and putting more of an emphasis on phone calls and visits to dealers, rather than just relying on emails and faxes. He explained that when Harry Choi came on as Kumho Tire U.S.A. president and CEO last year, one of his main goals was to have better communication with dealers. “We want to be talking to them on a daily basis,” Mr. Koh said. This type of dedicated communication will be led by Gail Hazlett, inside sales manager. Mr. Koh said the goal is to contact dealers at least once a quarter via phone calls and, as the relationships build, then trips to dealership will begin to occur as well. Kumho is planning some new promotions for the program in 2014 as well. Fuel comprises three tiers—and as dealers move up into different levels, there will be a reward. Mr. Koh said another thing the dealers really appreciate is a simple “thank you” for being in the program and being engaged. He said last quarter, the company called all the dealers who earned in the program and sent them a letter signed by Mr. Choi along with a $25 gift card. Mr. Koh credits Mr. Papazian for some of these efforts because when he started with Kumho two and a half months ago, he said the program was not really standing out in the market. Not everyone is moving up the tiers, but they are still engaged, Mr. Koh said, and Kumho wants to be able to reward them in some way, such as with customized trips. “We are going to have regional-based, customized prizes,” he said. Lastly, Mr. Koh said the dealer online portal—which is designed to be a “one-stop-shop” for Kumho's Fuel program dealers, its distributors and Kumho staff—will include information on training, point-of-sale material, premiums and tracking for Premium Fuel dealers so they can see how they are doing in the program. “The independent dealer has the ability to go into the portal; he will have a log in, his own password,” he said. Mr. Papazian said the online portal is a “strong snapshot of where they (dealers) are.” To reach this reporter: jkarpus@ crain.com; 330-865-6143.
Re-enrollment begins for Kumho's Premium Fuel dealer program
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