AKRON—As North America starts to emerge from the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic cloud, Goodyear CEO Richard Kramer is urging its affiliated dealers to incorporate lessons they've learned this year into the business plan they'll need to develop to cope with the "new normal."
"Run your business in the 'Now,'" he said, "and keep an eye on the Future."
Kramer delivered the keynote address during the annual Goodyear Customer Conference, which was held virtually for the first time. The conference began Dec. 10 and concluded Dec. 17.
Describing Goodyear's "Driving Forward" mantra as an equation—Redefining Success + The Value of 'And' = Partnership with Goodyear—Kramer said: "You've redefined normal for your customers and your own operation, In view of all that, it's impossible and frankly, unexciting, to imagine going back to doing things the way they were before."
Looking to provide dealers some perspective, Kramer evoked the country's business climate in 2009 at the onset of the Great Depression, when the economy dipped precipitously only to recover steadily throughout the following 128 months, accompanied by record new car sales and low single-digit unemployment.
Kramer said the expected recovery from the pandemic-induced economic plunge will differ one key manner from 2009—it will rebound faster. Goodyear saw signs of this in the third quarter and early fourth quarter.
One key sign dealers should consider is consumers' "almost overnight" digital transformation—a conversion to online consumerism, characterized by a boom in internet shopping and acceptance of home delivery.
"If you picture the inflection point as the apex of a hill," he said, "we're over the top, on the other side and picking up speed."
As for being the best potential partner for the independent trade, Kramer stressed that Goodyear is "redefining success not based on what our business looked like in the past, but on the ways it can lead in the future."
To that end, he listed a number of initiatives Goodyear has under way, including:
- "industry-leading" digital presence;
- a "powerful" and growing OE presence, including fitments on many of the cutting-edge electric and hybrid models rolling out in 2021 and beyond;
- "best-in-class" dealer network platforms at both the retail and commercial segments;
- ongoing intelligent tire research and development; and
- "AndGo," a fleet-servicing platform for consumer sectors.