2011 TAFF Awards Finalists
The NTDA Tyre & Fast-Fit Awards have established themselves over the years as the accolade that every company covets and competition is growing keener with each passing year.
The process for the 2011 TAFF Awards is well under way and the names of the finalists can now be revealed. NTDA members were invited to submit nominations in the five categories of the awards and the most popular companies go forward to the final voting stage.
So who are this year's contenders? First up is the "Tyre Manufacturer of the Year" category and there are some familiar faces on the short list. Last year's winner – Bridgestone UK – made it, as did previous winners Michelin Tyre and Continental Tyre Group and they are joined by Pirelli UK (no strangers to making the final five) and, for the second year running, Hankook Tyre UK.
Familiar names too in the "Wholesaler of the Year" section, which sees last year's five finalists – B.I.T.S., Bond International, Grouptyre, Micheldever and 2010 winners Stapleton's, joined by Viking International. This category is always very competitive, with customers being encouraged to vote for their favourite supplier.
Another competitive category is that of "Tyre & Aftermarket Equipment Supplier of the Year", with many of the companies regularly making the short list year after year. This year there are three such companies – Apaseal (winners in 2010), Harvie Tyres and Rema Tip Top Automotive – and two new finalists: Autogem Motor Concepts and Euro Car Parts. It will be interesting to see what impact the new faces might have.
If many of the categories contain familiar names, the same cannot be said for the "Environment" award. Yes, the names are familiar, but not in this context, as not a single one of last year's Environment short list nominees made the final five this time around, so we are guaranteed a new winner for 2011. Three of the finalists this year are tyre manufacturers – Continental Tyre Group, Michelin Tyre and Yokohama HPT – plus there is one retreader – Bandvulc Tyres – and a waste collection company; Vellco Tyre Control.
The final category for which the tyre industry can vote is that of "Tyre Industry Advertising Campaign", sponsored by Tyres & Accessories magazine, the NTDA's media partner for the TAFF Awards. Continental will be keen to take this award for the third year in a row, but faces stiff competition from the other four finalists, who are Hankook Tyre, Infinity Tyres Europe (a first-time finalist), Michelin Tyre and Pirelli Tyres UK. Campaigns can be from any medium; print, TV, radio or Internet.
The "Innovation" category is decided in a different manner from those above; instead of being voted on by the tyre industry, companies can submit a product or service that they feel is genuinely innovative and a panel of industry experts draw up a short list and pick the eventual winner. Last year Michelin scooped the award with its X One MaxiTrailer tyre, but the short list included a wide variety of products and services from all sectors of the industry.
New Award – "Tyre Centre of the Year"
Talking of innovations, 2011 sees the introduction of a brand new TAFF Award, that of "Tyre Centre of the Year". Retailers will be able to put forward a garage or depot for consideration and those nominated will be subject to a 'mystery shopping' exercise and rated on their performance.
Without giving too much away, among other things the shoppers will be examining politeness and staff attitude, efficiency of handling telephone enquiries, ability to gather information and make recommendations accordingly, explaining the reasons to the customer, plus overall helpfulness and professionalism. In short, all the qualities and treatment that a customer can reasonably expect from what he considers a professional establishment that is an expert in a field of which he knows little.
All too often – sometimes without justification - the tyre trade is depicted as unhelpful and uninformative, speaking jargon that the customer doesn't understand. This new award is designed to encourage tyre retailers to be on the top of their game when it comes to customer service and customer satisfaction.