Does Your Associate Dealer Program Make The Grade?
These days, it seems everywhere you look there is another tire manufacturer offering an associate dealer program. As such, independent tire dealers have a wealth of opportunity to get rewarded for selling the tires of virtually any brand. The challenge for tire manufacturers is making their own programs stand out in the crowd.
A recent issue of Tire Review referenced a study by Babcox Research that noted that just 30% of customers will ask for a specific brand of tire at the point of sale; the vast majority rely on the dealer sales rep’s expertise—and brand loyalty. In fact, nearly 80% of dealer sales reps said that they were influenced by manufacturer incentives when providing recommendations to customers.
Whether you’re providing a platform through which distributors can run your promotions for the dealers, or if you’re targeting dealers as the end users for the program, certain features can ensure that your associate dealer program provides the capabilities necessary to boost dealer sales, improve sales efficiencies, and keep your tires top of mind when consumers come in to buy.
What are some key characteristics of a comprehensive and engaging associate dealer program?
Participating has its advantages…and is easy to do.
If you make it difficult for dealers to register for and participate in your program, you will unlikely get the engagement you need to really make the program a success. You can keep registration as simple as entering contact and shop information into an online form for immediate processing, which cuts down on the time involved in filling out printed applications or dealing with the manual entry of faxes or individual emails. If an order is required prior to registering for the program, allow the dealer to upload a template that includes the order details.
Your program should also make participation simple to do as well. In addition to having a straightforward invoice submission process, your dealers should have all the necessary information about the program available at the fingertips. From frequent communication about company news, product releases, or national advertising campaigns, dealers need a constant stream of information in order to maintain their enthusiasm about your brand.
Dealers benefit from your sales enablement and marketing tools.
The key purpose of your associate dealer program is to drive more sales of your tires. To do that, you need to ensure that you’re providing your dealers with the materials and education they need to not only sell your tires, but to sell them well. It’s one thing to provide a dealer with a couple of printed fliers that they can reference during the sales process with a customer, but it’s an entirely different thing to offer them video tutorials, sell sheets that answer the most common customer questions, or quizzes that allow dealers to test their knowledge. To make it even more interesting (and to ensure your training gets completed to your satisfaction!), dealers could even get rewarded for successful completion of these quizzes, or unlock bonus promotions that aren’t available to dealers who have not completed the training.
Participation in your associate dealer program should also give dealers access to marketing materials that they can either order through the program or use digitally for additional brand awareness and lead generation. Materials they can order can be, for example, brochures, signage, and other branded items that can be leveraged to drive more sales at the point of sale. For the digital-savvy dealers, you can provide a repository within your program that hosts high-resolution versions of your company’s logo, digital advertisements, sample social media posts, and much more.
The incentives are appealing and/or good for the dealer’s business.
A number of top tire manufacturers leverage the use of loyalty programs, similar to those that you find with airlines and their customers. By spending a certain amount on tires, a dealer will move through a number of “tiers” in the program, each of which provides additional benefits to reward the dealer’s loyalty to the tire manufacturer. These benefits can include higher payouts on individual tire sales, periodic rebates or bonuses for volume sales, co-op marketing funds or access to MDFs for additional market impact, and more.
The rewards themselves, then, can come in the form of cash, gift cards or reloadable debit cards, discounts on specific tires or other manufacturer products, or even merchandise such as manufacturer-branded apparel or items for the shop. By offering a variety of rewards options, tire manufacturers ensure that the dealers in their programs have the opportunity to get what they want for the purchases and sales of your tires, which motivates them further to participate on a frequent basis.