ABOARD THE LIBERTY OF THE SEAS April 1, 2015) — Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C. is renewing its vow to serve its dealers' needs better — including better fill rates — as the company “turns the corner” in 2015.
“Last year we talked a lot about turning the corner,” said Bill Caldwell, vice president, sales and marketing in the U.S., told a record gathering of the firm's elite “Gold” dealers on their annual spring incentive trip.
“We were talking more about our readiness on the Continental side to deliver what we thought was everything that you needed to make us a reliable manufacturer,” he said, “a reliable brand for you to carry in your stores.”
This year's incentive trip, a four-day Caribbean cruise with ports of call in Labadee, Haiti, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica, attracted a record number of Conti's elite “Gold” dealers, 304 in all, including 31 first-time elite status dealers.
“We felt very confident going into 2014 about our ability to supply your needs,” Mr. Caldwell added, addressing the fill-rate issue, which has been a weakness for Conti in the past. “And we also talked about you being our No. 1 priority, but also, we wanted to be your No. 1 supplier program.
“We are excited about what's to come in 2015,” he said.
At year-end 2014 Conti sent out a dealer survey to garner feedback and learned that while 60 percent said Continental is already their No. 1 pick, others offered suggestions on how to improve.
“What you told us was you need a competitive program to help your profitability. I think that's core to business every day,” Mr. Caldwell said.
Chris Jenkins, national programs manager, spoke about the success of the Continental Gold program last year, which saw significant increases in purchases and rewards.
“If the success of the Gold program in 2014 is any indication of your overall business, then congratulations to all of you because it was a terrific year in 2014 for the Gold program, which I think is a reflection of your overall business,” Mr. Jenkins told the group.
Highlights of increases for the Gold program include:
- Gold purchases up 18 percent;
- Gold rewards up 33 percent;
- Elite dealer purchases up 20 percent; and
- Elite dealer rewards up 26 percent.
As part of program enhancements, Conti is launching the Continental Automotive Credit Card on April 1.