Bridgestone: the Success Dependent on Quality Customer Service

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Updated: Jun 18, 2022
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Bridgestone is a privately held for-profit organization. Bridgestone Americas is looking to add 800 or more retail points of sale to 2,200-plus company-owned retail stores it currently operates as it drives to “become the most trusted provider of automotive care in every neighborhood we serve” (Davis 2016). Bridgestone Retail Operations, LLC (BSRO) is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, and operates the largest network of company-owned automotive service centers across the United States – including Firestone Complete Auto Care, Tiers Plus, Hibdon Tires Plus and Wheel Works store locations (News 2018).

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Bridgestone has become a world class organization.

Bridgestone has been in business since 1931. Their founder, Shojiro Ishibashi, made the ‘Tabi’ Socks Tyre Division independent and established the Bridgestone Tyre Co., Ltd. in the city of Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture. ‘Bridgestone’ was named after the name of the founder, Shojiro Ishibashi (Ishi = Stone, Bashi = Bridge) (Bridgestone, n.d.). Bridgestone has expanded its operations since its inception. In 1988, Bridgestone purchased the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio (Bridgestone, n.d.). They sell Bridgestone and Firestone tires and also have service centers across the U.S.

Bridgestone’s vision shows why they’re an industry leading organization. Understanding that Serving Society with Superior Quality is our heritage and our mission, and embracing our responsibility to future generations as a global leader in our industries, Bridgestone and its teammates around the world employ innovation and technology to improve the way people move, live, work and play (Our Way To Serve. (n.d.).This philosophy has helped Bridgestone rank at #20 on the Forbes list with a market cap of $30.7B (Forbes 2018). If they can sustain this leadership and vision, they’ll continue to set the standard within their industry.

Bridgestone has to use their Human Resources department to map out there current competency gaps, strategies, and training efforts. They need to introduce some new initiatives into their organization to help close their competency gaps. The way to do this is through innovative strategies and training programs. By doing this, they can maintain their superiority and continue to carry out their mission statement of “Serving Society with Superior Quality” (About Bridgestone, n.d.).

Competency Gaps

Currently, Bridgestone has some competency gaps that they need to improve on to achieve their goals. With the help of their human resources department they can bridge these gaps and move toward the future with confidence. Significant competency gaps exist within even the most successful companies (Abramo 2017). The workforce is lacking in their competencies surrounding the development of internal talent and the management ranks. Within the retail store area there is a serious problem with the growth of talent internally. On a normal basis, the Bridgestone strategy is to build from within; training employees with the necessary skills to lead them to being identified and promoted to leadership roles. Lately, they’ve seen a definite transformation. Workers are not gaining the skills needed to progress into open managerial or leadership roles. This deficiency has forced the organization to look for external talent to fill these roles, which has caused some disharmony within the workforce.

The root cause of this competency issue is leadership’s inability to identify this gap and plan accordingly to alleviate it. It’s imperative that employees be given the tools to acquire the skills they need to move up within the organization for them to be happy and productive. Organizations need well-trained and skilled employees to compete. Cultivating a culture of learning where training and development are ingrained will lead to more productive employees equipped to deliver world-class results (2016). The company normally promotes internally, they have a mentor program for new and potential managers to help prepare its employees to get ready to step into leadership roles. After seeing a decline in the business they began to rethink this philosophy and began looking externally.


Bridgestone has to develop solid strategies to solve their talent development issues. As before stated, the Bridgestone mission is to serve society with superior quality (About Bridgestone, n.d.), but they can’t achieve this statement without a quality workforce. According to the company, Mr. Harmon will be tasked with the driving strategic growth of GCR commercial tire and service locations in North America (Tire Business Staff 2017). Bridgestone needs to drive breakthrough growth, smart simplicity, empowered accountability, and organizational excellence to be a premier place to work. Interim President of BSRO, Damien Harmon, announced earlier in the year that BSRO is going through a restructure with HR playing a large part to enhance execution in the field to positively promote growth. With this strategic restructure will come smart simplicity within the HR function in regards to processes and procedures, as well as headcount and cost efficiency. Organizational excellence is to be achieved through proper alignment of HR and operations to support all areas of the field through four divisions. Finally, with the restructure will empower accountability and increased leadership engagement with the field, improved center of excellence service delivery and opportunities for advancement within the organization (BSRO’s Transformational Journey, 2017).

Bridgestone needed to find out the specific areas within the organization that needed attention. When planning a project it is important to learn about the internal and external factors that can affect the project. There are some excellent strategic planning methods that you can use analyze all these factors. SWOT analysis and PEST analysis are two of the most frequently used planning methods (Staff 2017). The SWOT analysis will help the organization to figure out where the gaps are. Through the SWOT analysis, the company will be able to work in conjunction with HR to develop an HR and overall business strategy that align to the company’s goals and foster positive growth with the restructure. A SWOT analysis is crucial to determine the state of an organization and the areas in which the company needs to improve to mitigate risk and overcome weaknesses. According to Stu Crum, the president of Bridgestone Americas, there is nobody right now in the automobile car care service space that’s in that top 100. I’m putting out a significant challenge for my team but also a significant challenge for the industry (Bemer 2014).


After completing the SWOT, Bridgestone will know exactly how to tackle their deficiencies. Designing a firm training plan would be a major step in the process. Many organizations think only in the current frame of reference and, as a result, fill only roles that suit the present and fail to plan for the future. By making sure succession planning happens alongside the strategic planning process, a business can make sure that it has the future capability needed to meet its strategic options (Succession Planning 2011). We’ve already identified that we have an issue with our internal talent development so we definitely need to offer more training to our employees so that they can become better stewards of the company. The mentor program will be an intricate part of this training strategy.

It’s important that the training plan is integrated into the daily operations of the organization. By knowing this information it can be possible to plan a successful project that is ready to work around certain problems effectively and to avoid failure (Staff 2017). For the auto service group this could include rewards for employees who attain their ASE certification. . A key part of HR responsibility is to make sure that the business has the resources to meet future needs (Succession Planning 2011). Offering increased compensation for reaching specific training markers can be supportive by helping the employee gain knowledge and the organization gains a more knowledgeable and complete worker. Also, it will help the organization retain good talent.

Now that Bridgestone has identified its competency gaps and developed a training plan to resolve them, they need to execute it to get closer to achieving their goal. This approach will positively affect the business as a whole, which can result in better customer service and earn the company more sustained revenues. There’s risk that you may not get as much service as you could from that first-time customer. There are some very good retailers that are doing that already today, but when you own that customer for a lifetime, when they actually do need to get their four tires and they do need to get their brakes done or they do need to have transmission service, they’ll actually choose you (Bemer 2014). This methodology can help Bridgestone attain the level of service needed to make this thought reality.



The human resources department has identified competency gaps. The workforce has a definite gap with the current internal structure. In order to be successful, Bridgestone has come up with a plan to address the identified gaps. Bridgestone’s Vision 2020 plan is to become a top 100 retailer and grow the business to a $6 billion operation so the company is going to have to take measures to prepare for significant growth throughout the organization (Bemer 2014). Not only to reach their financial goals, but also to make their mission to “Serve society with superior quality” a reality (About Bridgestone, n.d.).

When asked about Bridgestone’s Vision 2020, Crum described the success of his vision being dependent on quality customer service and being the first provider of automotive service in every neighborhood that the company serves (Bemer 2014). One approach that can be used is modeling the business after other successful retailers. This approach can help Bridgestone reach its goal of becoming a top 100 retailer. Customer service is a big part of retaining first time customers and making them life time customers which will help sustain and maintain company efforts. It stands to reason that Bridgestone has to invest in it people so that they have the necessary knowledge to serve each customer with excellence.

Another step in the process is the simplification of the regions and divisions from two divisions with twenty-two regions to four divisions with eighteen regions, which will serve a two-fold solution; to relieve pressure off of the two division head and create two additional division head positions that will be filled internally and show the workforce that they will be returning to the old tradition. Restructuring divisions will also give the company a more direct connection to the divisions and regions by having work that was being done by two managers divided into four which makes it easier for them to be aware of their specific regions. Bridgestone has gone through a restructuring recently in 2014, but this time around they are trying to focus on further growth of the business and the development of the workforce.

Bridgestone has forecasted expanding its retail stores. They’re looking at adding additional “Stores of the Fututre” that will revamp the atmosphere of their stores. Currently, the plan is to add 12 new stores and additional stores to come. The idea is that these stores will advance the brand by being the standard of Bridgestone’s new innovation model. These stores will house all the new products first. They’ll be online test markets to give Bridgestone a cushion and unabridged test ground to see which ideas are worthy of nationwide coverage and which ones should be discontinued. The organization has also modified many of the existing stores to have touch screens throughout the store that allow a more interactive experience with the customer (Bemer 2014). Also, they’ve integrated a visible work area within their retail stores that allow customers to see what is going on with their cars in real time. This approach helps to build the confidence needed to make one time customers return.

Training Plans

Bridgestone has some work in front of them if they truly want to meet their goals. Their investment in the training of their employees plays an intricate part in reaching their goals. Because they’re attempting to change the culture of the organization, there will have to be an ambitious growth plan to the implementation of Vision 2020 a success. This vision places more weight on customer service and their satisfaction as opposed to the past when they focused more on sales and transactions. This transition will place more stress on everyone at the store level. There will have to be significant training plans in place to get employees to change their focal point from simply making sales to the customer the center of their thought. The findings indicate that a combination of coaching, classroom instruction, feedback, and experiential training has a significant impact on leader performance. In addition, organizational effectiveness improves organizations whose leaders received the intervention (Seidle 2016). The new plan is geared towards training employees on the ethics of customer service. Also, it forces managers to change their leadership from only making sales to a combination of sales and customer satisfaction.

Management’s encouragement to oversee and follow through on the training of its people can be induced by their willingness to be morally and ethically aligned with Bridgestone’s mission of “Serving society with superior quality”, as well as the financial ties to their bonuses. In the past, this training has be done at the store level in real time, but there have been some misses along the way that have left some employees without the necessary skills to take over open leadership positions. The succession planning process is essential for focusing the development of the business and ensuring a good return on your training investment. If it is ignored, gaps in capability could become a barrier to future success (Succession Planning 2011).

Since the competency/training gaps have been identified, each division should develop specific training plans for each employee. They should also be briefed on why the company has chosen to use this approach to reach the goals set forth and how their performance affects the bottom line. The biggest resource that a business has is its people, and maximizing how this resource is used can make a major impact on the bottom line. If an organization has no goals to work toward, it is in danger of becoming reactive and of stultifying its potential growth (Succession Planning 2011). When leadership has a clear picture of the skills the workforce possesses, it will be easier for employees and management to ensure that they’re both being held accountable for their deliverables. By installing natural checks and balances the organization will be able to train its employees properly so that they don’t have to go to outside sources to find individuals with the skills to take on leadership roles.

Another benefit of creating a solid training plan for its employees is that the organization will have higher retention rates. Training its employees heavily in creating a one of a kind customer experience will help to drive customer retention rates as well. By personalizing the experience and sharing the right content, at the right time with the right people, you can make interactions faster, easier and more efficient for your customers (Carter 2018). One of the major gaps is the lack of internal growth. Once succession planning has been implemented, that should be slowly worked out of the system. By use of various motivational techniques such as promotion, increased pay and benefits such as company cars, HR managers can shore up an individual employee’s performance (Roberts 2018).

We have established that the workforce plan can’t be successful without training and developing the employees. We also had issues with preparing our in house talent for future leadership roles. Succession planning is not only beneficial in better preparing individuals to move into higher level roles, it also helps retain employees (Noe, 2013). If we properly train and develop our people, we’ll be able to hold on to our internal talent and become a better organized company as a whole.

Without being focused on the forecast and using it in the training of our workforce, we can’t expect to be successful. By using this information to direct our plan and fix the issues we’ve identified, we can set ourselves on the right path to shoring up our internal performance issues. It is vital that your employees develop service strategies to create a positive image, communicate effectively, and build customer rapport to support the underlying values and beliefs of your organization (Ukens 2007). This fix will trickle down into every phase of the organization. Customer service will improve; along with the organizations bottom line if we can be steadfast and stick to the plan.



Bridgestone has a good company, but they have several opportunities that they can improve on. The organization has goals that they want to reach so they have to resolve these problems to be successful. Training is one of the most critical areas that needs improvement and growth in this area will result in favorable results for the organization. They have to develop their internal talent if they want to continue to be the top of the class and maintain their footing within the industry. By developing and engaging employees, the organization will be better equipped to become one of the top retailers and be the first provider of automotive service in every neighborhood that the company serves (Bemer 2014). This is why the recommendation is for the company to focus on training and succession planning to close the competency gaps that have been identified. After this is accomplished, we’ll be able to mitigate the retention rate and close each of the identified gaps.


Challenges are to be expected when you embark on a journey such as this. The company has to defeat these challenges to secure the future of the organization. These challenges are the reason we need to have a solid training plan. Management has to maintain their engagement in the process so that the vision is realized and the goals set forth are reached. A major challenge will be shoring up our customer service. The four challenges are the changing roles of salespeople, the intensified emphasis on accountability, the enhancement of technological capabilities, and the importance of cultural diversity (Lassk 2012). We have to stay on top of the training plan to make sure that everyone is getting what they need. It’s imperative that all sales associates are given the tools they need to positively affect the company goals. If the organization can remain diligent, they will be able to push forward optimistically and confidently. Secondly, management has to be in tune with the workforce so that identifying promotable employees is easier and keeps the workforce motivated to perform. The Human Resources department has to spearhead this effort and keep the organization aligned during the process and until the goals are reached.?

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Bridgestone: The Success Dependent On Quality Customer Service. (2022, Jun 18). Retrieved from