Between relaxing poolside, talking shop and digging their toes into the white, sandy beaches of Punta Cana, Continental Tire GOLD Dealers were rewarded for their success during the company’s 2022 GOLD Dealer Trip to the Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana Resort in the Dominican Republic. During the week-long getaway, 300-plus GOLD dealers and their spouses were able to bond, make memories and exchange best practices as well as receive updates from Continental about what to expect from the company and GOLD dealer program this year.
“I know it’s been a challenging and dynamic environment that we continue to work in,” said Bill Caldwell, executive vice president of sales for Continental Tire the Americas, kicking off the Dealer Meeting. “There are a lot of projects we’ve been working on…we spend a lot of time trying to figure out things that will help you succeed in order to support you in a stronger way. We believe that you’re key to our success, and if you win, we win.”
With dealer success at the forefront, Continental executives delved into the new marketing, dealer tools and partnerships the company has formed aimed at dealer success. Partnerships, in particular, were a highlight of this year’s dealer offerings.
Addressing the Need for Trained Technicians
One of the four main pillars of Continental’s strategy in the Americas is partnership with its customers, and Continental highlighted its recent partnership with Universal Technical Institute (UTI), which is slated to provide value through a trained workforce, said Chris Charity, vice president of sales.
In June, the company announced its partnership with UTI, a provider of technical training for those seeking entry-level careers as technicians in the transportation industry. UTI currently has 18 locations across nine states and is growing its footprint each year. As part of the partnership, Continental GOLD dealers will be able to post jobs on UTI’s website at no cost and offer apprenticeship opportunities to students going through training at any location. They’ll also be able to participate in job fairs in order to attract technicians to their business.
“Over the last year or two, we’ve gotten a lot of feedback around trouble keeping techs and personnel in the dealerships with all the increased business that we’ve had,” Charity said. “So, we’re going to do this for the next five years. We think it’ll really open up a new avenue and add value for you.”
As part of the partnership, Charity said Continental tires will also be used in training on campuses nationwide, which will help students become aware of the Continental brand early in their careers. In addition, UTI students will have access to Continental’s Engage 360 Online Training Center, where they’ll be able to learn about different tire segments across the Continental and General Tire brands and receive tire service training.
“We want to get our tires in front of the students because they’re future influencers,” Charity said.
GOLD Dealers can find more information about how they can get involved in this partnership in their dealer business suite.
As GOLD dealers know, Continental believes that consistency builds confidence, says Travis Roffler, director of marketing. “You’re not going to see big changes from Continental month after month, year after year. It’s always about being consistent and consistently delivering the things that you guys need for your businesses,” Roffler told dealers.
That’s true with its taglines. The Conti brand’s tagline, “For what you do,” has been in place since 2010, and the General brand’s, “Anywhere is possible,” has been used since 2008, which has helped build consistency over time. However, Roffler said thanks in part to the “reset” COVID gave businesses, the company is changing the taglines for both brands.
For the last few weeks, Continental has been rolling out its new tagline, “The Smart Choice in Tires,” which will appear on all marketing going forward. Roffler said in gaining feedback, dealers, distributors and consumers defined Continental as a brand with “exceptional performance at a value price.”
“This is what we mean when we say confidence and consistency over time,” Roffler said, noting why the new tagline works. “Not only from a consumer standpoint but also from a distributor and dealer standpoint, we believe we are the smart choice for tires.”
Roffler said Continental’s new branding will roll out with a revamp of its website this year as well as in its sponsorships of Major League Soccer, college basketball, Jeep Jamboree, BMW Performance Driving School and Petty’s Garage among others. It will also be seen in Continental’s newest partnership with Toyota Racing Development’s GR Cup. The TRD GR Cup, Toyota’s all-new single-make racing series, will feature the Continental ExtremeContact DR as its official tire in its 14 events held at circuits across the US.
On the General Tire side, Roffler said the General brand has traditionally been viewed as an explorer and adventurer brand. However, that “Anywhere is possible” tagline was limiting, since it didn’t encapsulate the performance of other General-brand tires that are standout products for dealers.
“‘Anywhere is possible,’ was about the destination. The new tagline, ‘Delivers,’ is about where you go,” said Roffler, adding that the “live” in delivers will be highlighted. “The idea we came up with is General Tire delivers so you can live. It’s more about the experience, and this works well for all other General products– the Grabber AT, Grabber ATX, Altimax RT45, G-Max RS, etc.”
The new General Tire branding will also be rolled out on General Tire’s website as well as across the brand’s partnerships with Ducks Unlimited, Major League Fishing and the Automobile Racing Club of America’s (ARCA) stock car racing Menard’s Series among others.
New Marketing Materials
With the new taglines comes new branding and marketing materials for the General Tire and Continental brands, Roffler said. Continental will roll out a myriad of digital advertising and concept art across social media and other digital platforms, which dealers can benefit from.
Roffler said dealers can reap the benefits by adding their logos to the creative assets, which Continental will provide in its Dealer Suite. Assets will be available for dealers to use on their social media channels as well as POS banners for in-store merchandising. Dealers can also partner with Continental on a geofencing campaign, in which co-branded ads with Continental and their dealership will be served to devices in their geographic area.
“Now, 86% of your customers do some form of research before they buy a tire. The entire window is very short…from six hours to six days maximum when they buy a tire. That decision process is made through a lot of intuitive thinking with content. With the way the web is set up, you can get a lot of information very quickly… we try to control that information as best we can from what we provide,” says Roffler, highlighting the company’s consumer targeting efforts that lead to business for dealer locations.
Another addition to its marketing materials for dealers is a tweak to Continental’s Total Confidence Plan, a comprehensive package of all available warranties and services that comes with each Conti tire purchase. In addition to road hazard coverage, flat tire roadside assistance, a 60-day customer satisfaction trial and mileage warranty, the company added trip insurance to the plan this January. Emergency Trip Interruption Coverage, which plays into Continental’s new tagline of “the smart choice for tires,” will allow dealers to offer customers up to a $500 reimbursement for expenses incurred as a result of a vehicle breakdown.
GOLD Program Highlights
The Continental GOLD Dealer program, now in its 16th year, continued to highlight the partnerships GOLD dealers can benefit from, and this year, dealers part of the program will be able to access information about their program through a new app.
Debbie Richards, GOLD program manager, said the “Continental GOLD” app, available to download in the Apple app store or Google Play, will serve as a place where dealers can access important information from their ContiLink account all on their phone or tablet. On the app, GOLD dealers can track their sales and rewards, access promotions, send out rebate forms, look up tire information and receive individualized notifications about their milestones on the program in the palm of their hand.
“With all of these different program elements to track, it’s important to have the right tools,” Richards said. “The app is personalized to your business, so you’ll get push notifications with information relevant to your specific business.”
During the meeting, Richards highlighted the partnerships, such as oil programs with Valvoline and marketing programs with Podium, that are available to GOLD dealers through the program. A panel of representatives from different companies that partner with Conti on the GOLD program presented the competitive advantages of working with them and deals dealers were able to access at the meeting.
Richards also recognized dealers that have been in the GOLD program for 15, 10 or five years and said on average, dealers on this year’s GOLD trip average 11 years in the program.
“We’re here to celebrate all of you,” she said. “You’ve gotten through a pandemic…and your work ethic and your ability to constantly improve and adapt has helped you make it through all of these challenges.”
Joe Maher, Continental product manager, reviewed two new General tire products that are available to dealers this year: The General Altimax RT45, an all-season touring tire for passenger cars and crossovers, and Grabber HD Van, an all-season commercial tire built for cargo vans.
You can find out more about the Altimax RT45 in our earlier coverage of the tire’s launch below.
During the meeting, Maher said in developing the RT45, he and his team were cognizant of the value its predecessor, the AltiMax RT43, provided dealers. So, slight changes were made to enhance the tire’s styling and tread wear.
“We held the line on comfort, wet, snow and dry performance but we improved wear by 10%,” said Maher, comparing the RT45 to its predecessor. “We’ll give you the same mileage expectations but actually outperform it.”
The Altimax RT45, which has a 75,000-mile warranty for H and T speed ratings and a 65,000-mile warranty for V speed ratings, covers 85% of the cars and crossovers on the road today with its 136 sizes. Maher said in July, the company launched 100 sizes and will come out with the other 36 in September. He said 20 of the line’s sizes are for 17-in. and up rim diameters.
Maher also highlighted the Grabber HD Van, which he says has 25% better treadwear than its competitors. You can find more details about the tire here. The Grabber HD Van is a C-type (Euro van) tire offered in four sizes with simple styling, including a sidewall marking that designates the tire for van applications. Maher called it a “working tire” with its capacity to handle high loads.
The HD Van, which can be used for last-mile delivery applications, features DuraGen compounding technology, which enhances strength and cut and chip resistance, while its Sidewall Curb Guard, rubber added to the sidewall, increases its durability.
“It’s really important these vehicles get the right tire,” Maher said. “In some of the sizes, you’ll see that there is a passenger car tire with the same dimension as this C-tire but it carries significantly less load carrying capacity…load-carrying capacity is a really important attribute in this tire and vehicle type.”
The tire is backed by a 72-month manufacturer’s warranty and comes in sizes 185/60 R15C, 195/70 R15C, 235/65 R16C and 195/75 R16C.