COACHING AFFILIATE PROGRAMS
Pirelli’s specialized dealer network
Acting as a common denominator is the desire to link the network to the brand, especially in the perception of potential buyers
Affiliated and trained. First the daily business management, and then a strict and detailed analysis of the business: this is the coaching program that DRIVER, Pirelli tire specialists’ network, has decided to implement during the coming years, after a short trial run in late 2015, to be soon followed by the use of new technologies, combining the different services offered to the customers in a digital approach. A sharp change of pace toward which DRIVER’s management has long being committed. As the CEO Antonella Lauriola explains: "The entrepreneur remains the central figure of the program, the specialist retailer who is responsible for transferring to the final customer the contents of our offer, as well as the value of the brand Pirelli. Training is paramount for the success of the program, indispensable in successfully coping with market changes and the growing demand for innovative services which must be properly addressed". If the customer is increasingly accustomed to moving in a digital ecosystem, becoming an active part of it becomes essential. "Sales strategies must change in the light of new technologies. Consumers are constantly looking for tailored services after a data sifting process through social networks, and have substantially modified their yardstick in view of their next purchase: here, then, is the need for a different experience, something that involves them and makes the value of our proposal explicit".
New digital touch points
Thus, among the qualifying aspects of the 2016 program, as shown during a two days annual convention, Driver introduces a number of digital touch points, "able to integrate - says Lauriola - the whole process of customer experience with services that set our network apart". Among them, new PR digital tools and techniques for a personalized and direct communication with customers, as well as an innovative app for the dealer, connected to the management system, which provides quick retail store acceptance through a smart-phone or tablet.
T4T is the name of the application designed to speed up the whole process. "A revolutionary fast and streamlined approach - says the CEO of Driver – substituting traditional back office operations. And the growing request for innovative services by consumer in general must likewise be considered revolutionary. One example is the Driver On the Go initiative: recently demonstrated in Milan, the idea of tire replacements performed directly at our customers’ homes received kudos.
Integrating digital and traditional services means being able to provide the right service for each category of customers". Online sales, on the other hand, are a totally different matter: "Our approach - she said - is not based on e-commerce per se, which tends to eliminate the middle-man, but revolves, instead, on the idea of promoting new services that characterize and clearly identify the network: this is how we see our web project, in view of building a lasting relationship with our customers".
Once the value of new technologies and digital innovation has been understood, we focus on management activities: "The project we call Coaching - continues Driver’s CEO - is designed to "train" the entrepreneurs to look inside their own companies and identify areas of improvement and consequently develop a schedule for dealing with the issues bringing immediate and visible benefits. Benefits that are measured through appropriate references and are within their reach. It is crucial for us to closely support our retail stores, as well as involve as many of our affiliates as possible in our training program". Thanks to the different levels of training made available to our network members, including a master program for the next generation of entrepreneurs, we provide the largest possible educational background. "It is - says Lauriola – a regional activity, on which a good portion of our investments are focused.
Not to mention generating in-store traffic volumes, which is the sell-out driving force. A number of initiatives have been planned for 2016 in this direction".
A growing network
Acting as a common denominator is the desire to link the network to the brand in the perception of potential buyers. This explains our sponsoring of the Inter Football team for the 2015-2016 season, with the Driver brand appearing on the team’s second jersey, as well as prize competitions for the team’s fans, able to generate a wide echo within the numerous football fans. "Training, innovative marketing tools, support services are all parts of an effective service: these are - summarizes Lauriola - our main strengths, widely recognized by our affiliates. The network continues to grow, proving the soundness of our project; but the clearest evidence comes from the number of three-year contract renewals signed in 2012: without exception, all members have confirmed their membership". Shifting our attention on the market, 2015 showed comforting sign of recovery. "For example the double-digit increase in new vehicle registrations, which was accompanied by the growth, albeit limited, of tire sales in the country provides a positive outlook on the immediate future. A lot sharper, however, was the growth recorded in the high-end segment, which happens to be in line with our mission. The year ended on a higher note compared to expectations, because we have continued to invest in expanding the network: thirty more retail stores, which brought the number of our members beyond the 380 units. For 2016 the outlook is positive and we hope to confirm the good results obtained during the last year and, if possible, do even better".
THE MARKETPLACE AS AN ADDED VALUE
On the one hand the relationship with the network, on the other the relationship with customers: Driver’s franchisees are able to absorb and transfer to the customers the benefits of the offer as efficiently and as effectively as possible. In practical terms, this means economic agreements made available through a dedicated platform for online purchases, a marketplace where the entire range of the network’s offer is found. Not only Pirelli brand products, though, but also tires from competing brands. "From our side - says the CEO of Driver Antonella Lauriola - there's an ongoing commitment to extend the list of suppliers, so that customers can be totally satisfied, enjoying a service that will also take up less of their valuable time. Under the magnifying lens, now more than ever, are products connected to mechanical services as well as a wide range of corollary products, from engine oil (Petronas at the moment), interior sanitizing products, ending with snow-chains.