Despite the ups and downs of 2020, Hercules Tires has new products for SUVs and light trucks, as well as improvements to its dealer programs in store for 2021.
“Our mission is to continue to focus on and exceed expectations for our customers,” says Josh Simpson, senior vice president, proprietary brands, at American Tire Distributors. “With being tuned in to the independent tire dealer, we want to provide unmatched profitability to a wide selection of quality products.”
Simpson says Hercules Tires’ focus is on providing dealers with the resources they need. This year, that included an online COVID-19 resource center with information about small business loans and health and safety recommendations. In 2021, part of the brand’s dealer-focused formula will include new products with the launch of two all-terrain tires in the Terra Trac lineup—one for SUVs and another for light trucks.
“What we did is take the Terra Trac AT II and split it into two lines,” Simpson said. “The AT II has been wildly successful, but it’s time to replace it as newer technology comes to market and newer flavors in terms of pattern design emerge. We definitely saw the need to take that singular line and really focus it on the specific needs of SUV and LT customers.”
On the commercial side, Simpson said Hercules will extend its Hercules Strong Guard Medium Truck Tire lineup with two mixed-service deep tread drive tires.
Tweaks are also on the way to Hercules’ dealer programs. With the brand seeing a slight dip in sales at the beginning of Q2 this year due to COVID-19, Hercules executives decided to lower second-quarter sales targets by 25% for dealers who are in the Hercules Power Program. Simpson said this helped maintain dealer compliance to their program goals. In 2021, Simpson said changes will be made to drive compliance and enhance payouts to Hercules’ compliant silver- through diamond-level dealers. The company will also roll out two national consumer tire rebates next year to drive business to dealerships, he added.
In addition, Hercules has plans to launch an e-learning platform—a virtual source of information where dealers and their employees can gain greater knowledge about the brand, technical aspects of its products, and ways to drive home its value proposition to consumers. Simpson said its launch is slated for early 2021.
“The goal is to drive business into dealerships and enhance their seller’s ability to sell product so they can earn more on the program,” Simpson said.
For commercial, OTR and industrial tire dealers, Hercules will change the name of its dealer program that covers those segments from the Hercules Commercial and Industrial Power Program (HCP) to the Hercules Flex Program in 2021. This year, Simpson said the brand’s overall goal is to boost participation by recruiting new dealers and increase compliance with existing dealers. The brand will add incentives for dealers who stay compliant with the program year-round.
Simpson said despite 2020 challenges, Hercules has remained focused on its business objectives of supplying the ever-changing needs of the tire dealer. In fact, Hercules Tires ranked No. 1 in fill rate in Tire Review’s 2020 Brand Study and has ranked No. 1 in profitability in the past two years. Simpson pointed to numerous ways Hercules is able to do this, which includes its limited distribution model.
“As a dealer, if you meet annual program objectives that hit our market share goals for that territory, we don’t distribute the Hercules brand to other dealers in your market,” he says. “It increases brand profitability for the dealer because we’re not saturating the brand in their area. But, he/she has to hit his/her programming numbers for this to happen.”
Simpson said with ATD as the sole distributor of Hercules Tires, the brand has an advantage “given the technology ATD puts into its replenishment system. It helps us elevate our fill rate in the market. Our product depth and breadth is unmatched.”
Simpson added that in 2021, Hercules will continue its multi-channel marketing efforts, including a multi-level partnership with Van Wagner that spans eight NCAA conferences and 32 colleges and universities.
“We have this to help create brand awareness to help the independent tire dealer bring business into his dealership,” he said. “We’ll continue to focus on the demand of our products and keep driving into 2021.”