Even as the COVID-19 pandemic refocused the industry's day-to-day attention on its role as an "essential" service, businesses large and small have been working overtime behind the front lines to recalibrate for the post-pandemic environment.
That description applies as well to those entities that operate marketing, buying and/or franchise programs for tire dealers and auto service providers.
In surveying the scene for this special focus on this sector, Tire Business came across two new programs of note — "Activate," a new dealer support initiative from American Tire Distributors Inc., and Tread Connection L.L.C., a mobile tire-servicing franchise system.
ATD said Activate offers assets such a national service and tire warranty, TIA membership, road-hazard coverage and roadside assistance but declined to discuss the program in greater detail. As of late June, the program had 781 members.
Separately, ATD continues to promote its Tire Pros dealer support program —which has more than 600 points of sale nationwide — but phased out its Service Bay program a few years ago.
A number of other programs tracked by Tire Business reported changes/improvements to their packages, including:
• Bridgestone Affiliated Dealers — added Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper to auto parts vendor partners.
• Continental Gold — added "Dealer Business Suite," which allows dealers to connect and benefit from a network of preferred vendors for their business needs, and authorized the use of a secondary distributor up to a certain threshold.
• Kumho Premium Fuel — added a "Hi Octane Bonus" that increases the incentive payout by $5 per unit for tires over 18-inch rim diameter.
• Falken Fanatic — the program's new "Enhanced" rewards program enables program members to earn up to $10 per tire. Dealers are eligible by streaming the firm's training and in-store entertainment, commentary and industry news. In response to the pandemic, Sumitomo Rubber North America boosted the reward bonus payouts during the second quarter by 40%.
• Goodyear — added access to a roadside assistance service for members of the Tires & Service Network.
• NTW/National Tire Wholesale --- added discount programs with Valvoline, Interstate Batteries, NAPA Auto Parts and Blackburn Wheels to the T3 program that formerly was handled by Michelin North America Inc. NTW took over administering the program in 2018 as part of its creation, which combined Michelin's TCi Tire Center assets with TBC Corp.'s wholesale assets.
• K&M Tire — added social media advertising packages, exclusive consumer instant and mail-in rebates for its Mr. Tire and Big 3 Tire programs.
• Nexen Next Level — lowered the quarterly goal during the second quarter to 70 units from 100 in response to the pandemic.
• Nitto Enthusiast — reduced qualifications temporarily during the second quarter for Pro I and Pro II by 50% to 25 and 100 units, respectively, in response to the pandemic.
• Yokohama Advantage — added an entry-level tier that starts at 60 units per quarter, increased payouts at every tier level and introduced "Payout Protection" in the second quarter that increased payout percentages to assist dealers affected by COVID-19.
In all, Tire Business profiles 38 U.S.-based and 17 Canadian marketing/franchise programs in this issue.
Together, they represent roughly 69,000 points of sale in the U.S. and 2,000 in Canada. There is considerable overlap among programs, so it's nearly impossible to calculate what percentage of dealers in the respective nations belong to one or more programs.
Tire Business will profile auto service programs — collectives, franchises, etc. — in the Aug. 17 issue.