AKRON — The impact of automotive aftermarket business collectives — franchises, marketing groups, buying groups, affinity groups, etc. — throughout the U.S. and Canada continues to grow as independent business owners seek to remain relevant in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
In the U.S. the number of marketing programs available to dealers grew by two in the past year as Maxxis International – USA and Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc. joined the fraternity of tire companies that offer some form of collective marketing and/or purchasing assistance through an associate or affiliate program.
Maxxis, the U.S. unit of Taiwan's Cheng Shin Rubber Co. Ltd., created its "Accelerate" program as part of a multi-pronged growth strategy, while Nitto's "Enthusiast Circuit" program is similar to but distinct from sister company Toyo Tire's Driven program.
The debut of these programs brings to 19 the number of associate dealer programs offered by tire makers in the U.S. In addition, there are 23 other programs offered by franchise groups, independent wholesalers or other marketing collectives.
Of these, seven are true franchise programs.
In Canada, there are 15 programs offered exclusively, along with a dozen or so tire company programs that are adjuncts to the U.S. programs.
In addition to the new programs from Maxxis and Nitto, Nokian Tyres Inc. modified its dealer programs and relaunched it under a new name, Nokian Tyres Affiliated Dealer. Nokian's program no longer uses the Vianor name, which is reserved for Nokian's captive retail business outlets.
Nokian — which is in the process of opening its first tire plant in the U.S. — has more than 250 outlets operating under the affiliated dealer program, to go with 11 Vianor Tire Centers stores in New England.
In addition, the T3 marketing program that Michelin North America Inc.'s TCi Tire Centers subsidiary has managed for decades now is part of NTW – National Tire Wholesale, a business unit of TBC Corp. following Michelin's investment last year with TBC parent company Sumitomo Corp. of America that made TBC a Michelin-SCA joint venture.
The dealer support program, which involves 608 independent dealers with 700-plus retail outlets, was relaunched with new colors and ID signage under the heading "Tools to Transform & Thrive."
NTW said to qualify for the T3 program — which offers volume discounts, advertising and website support and a credit card program — a dealership must be part of a tire manufacturer's associate dealer program with NTW assigned as a primary distributor.
NTW recently launched a discount program for point-of-sale systems, parts and labor warranties, equipment, etc.
Among others gearing up for growth are:
RNR Tire Express & Custom Wheels