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Already present in half of Europe with about 500 participating garages, the network has opened the first Italian point of sale at Ciriè (Turin) and is preparing to convert tyre specialists who already offer light mechanical services

Francesco Lojola

WHITE, RED AND BLACK, a new sign has made its debut on the national panorama of service and assistance centre networks. Preparing the way in Italy for AutoCrew, the second network of garages that in 2009 joined the historical Bosch Car Service circuit, is the Centro dell’Auto di Ciriè (Turin) that has been identified as the point of sale with a suitable profile by the German group’s automotive aftermarket division, which is more than ever focused on finding new commercial outlets for the business of spare parts specifically for garages. It has been dictated by the direct business begun six years ago (for windscreen wipers, spark plugs, filters and brake seals, for example), which transformed the Bosch division from a purely commercial branch to an all-round supplier. “A change” – stated automotive aftermarket senior vice chairman Frank Schlehuber – “related to wider strategic repositioning and composed of a complete offer in addition to equipment, diagnostics tools and numerous technical support services”. Hence the need to expand the list of those receiving the Germany company’s garage programmes by recruiting them from the many owners of independent services.

More garages in the network, more spare parts

The same ones who frequently struggle to keep pace with a changing market because of increasingly complex car repairs fed by the constant flow of new products, increasingly longer maintenance intervals and customers who expect professional and complete services at competitive prices. Fertile ground for the AutoCrew proposal despite the presence of new fewer than 23 garage networks in the territory. Joachim Schneeweiss, automotive aftermarket South Europe manager at Bosch, believes that “the conditions exist for development backed up by a quality programme conceived primarily with the future in mind.” “The aim over a three-year period is to have 500 Italian POS as members of AutoCrew” stated Dario Mottola, head of Bosch garage programmes for South Europe. 

Customers want one-stop-shops

The survey also focused on driver expectations. “What emerged was a request for professionalism and expertise, clarity and trust, as well as a complete service characterized by value for money. It also proved that today’s customers want one-stop-shops that do all the different jobs a vehicle needs. The AutoCrew programme meets these requests”. 

From the candidates for joining the network Bosch requires preparation, a proactive approach, interest in investing in the company, a clean environment with a waiting room for customers and a minimum of two workstations. “Without forgetting” – added Roberto Sanvito, automotive aftermarket sales manager for Italy – “a suitable space for the signs that convey a fresh and lively image” and are part of additional furnishings, the inevitable coordinated uniform, POP materials (flags, totems and posters) and gadgets, all included in the welcome kit for new affiliates. AutoCrew’s recruiting in the Italian market also includes specialist tyre retailers who already offer light mechanical services. Mottola explained: “Numerous tyre specialists have expanded their business to include light mechanics and there are just as many who are approaching it.”

A “light” version for affiliates

On the one hand, management support, contents, technical tools and training. On the other, attracting and creating loyalty among new customers, a coordinated image and professional marketing”. Compared to the programme for Bosch Car Service affiliates, AutoCrew is a kind of “light” version: “Without a doubt the first route is more demanding, also from a financial aspect; annual contract rights start from €2,600 compared to €1,600 for AutoCrew associates”. Sums that include, primarily, a contribution to communication and promotion actions for the network and individual POS. The garage can also make use of the network’s official website, where it can upload pages with the services it offers, as well as marketing support for ad hoc advertising campaigns. 

In addition” – Mottola added – “becoming a Bosch Car Service also involves a greater commitment to investing in training, equipment, spares and adaptation to service standards, all of which that are audited regularly”. The cost of joining the new network varies considerably, especially with regard to any additional equipment. 

Technical and managerial training

Then there is training (also via web, like the management training courses that focus on individual aspects of customer relations) and any adaptations required to achieve fixed levels of quality and service. “We are committed” –  Sanvito said – “to guaranteeing  precise quality standards through regular controls and random verifications, because damage caused by one garage has negative repercussions on the image and value of the entire network”. For tyre specialists who want to consolidate their skills by building up mechanical work and also want to strengthen their image, AutoCrew is a feasible opportunity, even if they are already involved with another network in the tyre sector; the same applies to garages authorized by a make of car.  “What is important” – Mottola emphasized – “is that the two brands and their respective zones are well defined and separate”. 

Bosch also has a membership method for individual business. “We call them modules, specific growth routes for expanding professional ranges of action. It is a road open to tyre specialists who are not yet familiar with mechanics and, for example, want to handle brake systems as a first step. The relevant module includes diagnostics tools, spares, training and technical information for completing the step”. 


• Joining the network for more visibility 

Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta were chosen as pilot areas for the development of the AutoCrew network in Italy and the province of Turin supplied the first affiliate. Vehicle roadworthiness tests, scheduled maintenance, repairs, tyre services and electrical work are the trump cards of Centro dell’Auto at Ciriè, a multi-specialized garage that has been in business for three and a half years and has two joint owners, Angelo Biolo, a highly experienced mechanic, and under-30 technician Fabio Di Nardo, who work with another two operators. Biolo said: “We wanted to launch our service centre and when the chance to be part of the AutoCrew network came up we wanted to be the first to get on this train so we accepted immediately. And we are very happily aware that we are benefitting greatly, primarily from visibility and image. We also meet the technical qualification and constant updating requirements that are often a sore point for many independent garages”. “The programme” – Di Nardo added – “faithfully reflects how we wanted to develop our business”.

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