“Out of those impressions, it's not only telling our compelling story to millions of consumers, but its turning heads,” he said. “It's creating demand from other independent tire dealers that are knocking on our doors to join the Tire Pros family.”
Tire Pros will continue its advertising campaign into 2016, said Quick Chadwick, director of marketing for Tire Pros, with a refined marketing mix emphasizing broadcast and digital and utilizing the results of last year's brand study for a more unified message.
Tire Pros began its national advertising campaign in 2015 with a $1 million contribution from ATD, which has opted to add another $1 million to the pool of dealer funds in 2016. Wes Stephenson, vice president of operations for Tire Pros, told Tire Business the contribution is indicative of ATD's strong support for dealers.
“The franchise agreement lays out the obligations of both the dealer and our side, the Tire Pros side, of what we have to do if they buy a certain amount of tires, but far beyond that ATD supports the Tire Pros dealers,” he said. The announcement that “they were going to give $1 million again this year, it's not an automatic and it's also not contractual. ATD didn't have to do that.”
The company also claimed Tire Pros dealers out-performed non-Tire Pros dealers in overall unit purchases through ATD in 2015, increasing 6 percent compared with flat growth from the rest of the industry.
Furthermore, the group provided upwards of 7,400 hours of training to its dealers in 2015 through its new dealer orientation program, Tire Pros Universities, PROS training modules and new Think Tank discussions, which Mr. Bitter called “easily the biggest success” the training team had last year.
Tire Pros offered two such sessions—one in the spring focusing on recruiting and retaining key employees and another in the fall focusing on sales growth, gross profit and expense control. Tire Pros has continued the program into 2016, with a yet-to-be-scheduled spring Think Tank focusing on operational efficiencies and best practices.
Other highlights included:
- Tire Pros credit card sales grew 26 percent for the year;
- Overall dealer engagement increased, as well as participation through its dealer councils;
- Tire Pros held its first Local Dealer Days tiered rebate promotion; and
- Enhancements to its affiliated vendor program, including new vendors and improved pricing through existing ones.
Heading into 2016, Tire Pros announced a number of updates and enhancements for dealers during the conference.
The group launched its first-ever national charity partnership with The Independence Fund (See story from the Feb. 29 print edition of Tire Business) in an effort to support wounded veterans and provide all its dealers with an opportunity to join the same cause.
Tire Pros also made strides to improve its online presence, relaunching its consumer-facing tirepros.com and announcing an upcoming overhaul of its dealer portal, tireprosonline.com.
The updated consumer website is now optimized for mobile features improved functionality along with updated product photography, the company said. Similarly, tireprosonline.com is being redesigned to be less cumbersome than the previous iteration and will feature an updated dealer hub.
“It's going to be basically modeled after a social media platform like Facebook, which most of us are very familiar with,” Mr. Chadwick said. “It'll help us to engage with each other easier and it'll let you have private conversations among each other or through different threads, such as your council thread. There will be threads where you can converse with corporate, much like the existing one.”
Tire Pros launched its PROformance training agreement and assessment process, which is designed to track business metrics impacted through training.
“If you're going to invest time and effort into training, there should be a mechanism in place for you to — at the end of the training — say, ‘Well, we moved the needle from here to here,'” Mr. Bittner said. “If you can't measure the training, then it's not really training, so this year we really wanted to make sure there is a greater commitment and greater engagement from the dealer in the training process.”
Dealers can request training through a Tire Pros Retail Business Consultant (RBC), who will conduct a training assessment with the dealer to identify results the training is meant to improve, current performance level in that area compared to an accepted benchmark and a measurable target goal/objective, the company said. Following the training, the RBC will share results of the assessment with the dealer and specify their responsibilities going forward.
According to Tire Pros, post-training results are to be monitored and reported by the dealer and shared with the RBC 30, 60 and 90 days after training.
Other program enhancements for 2016 include increased marketing support through Hercules Tire & Rubber Co.; an expanded approved vendor network; Tire Pros' Elite Dealer Text Club, which provides monthly text reminders about key initiatives; and the ability to rent Tire Pros' new “Hootie” mascot costume for community events.
To reach this reporter: [email protected]; 330-865-6148; Twitter: @Will_Schertz