Make way for 'America's Newest Tire Store'
Ford Motor Co. has done everything in its power to entice its 5,000 franchised dealerships to sell tires. In the last year, potential roadblocks such as inventory control and pricing have been addressed. So have tire warranties, which, at one time, were handled by Ford.
As part of a $40 million nationwide advertising campaign, Ford is promoting its dealerships as "America's Newest Tire Stores."
With all its resources, Ford is arguably the most powerful competitor to enter the retail tire market in recent memory. How this bold undertaking affects the independent tire dealer will depend on the success of what Ford calls its "Around the Wheel" program.
With that in mind, Modern Tire Dealer asked the Ford officials responsible for the program to discuss how it will be implemented.
At least in the short-term, independent tire dealers will be involved.
Ford tested tough
"This is virgin territory for us and our dealers," says Carl Bergman, customer service operations manager for Ford's Customer Service Division. "The timing is right. As warranty work decreases for dealerships, they have to be more competitive in maintenance and light repair work."
Bergman says 2,400 Ford dealerships, accounting for some 70% of its U.S. sales volume, have signed on to date.
Ford has attempted to sell tires at its dealerships in the past, but never with much success and certainly never on such a grand scale. Bergman says the completely voluntary "Around the Wheel" program solves the three biggest problems Ford dealers have traditionally had with selling tires: non-competitive pricing, a lack of …