The expansion of the Point S network in Italy focuses on tire specialists and specialized dealers, guaranteeing operational independence and business support through an innovative and increasingly digital service.
There is a challenge within a greater challenge in Point S’ business strategy in Italy: expanding the network ensuring each affiliate that they will retain complete operational independence, which means, leaving the decision-making process firmly in the hands of the entrepreneur who chooses to join the French network. Not bad going considering that other similar networks have set the Italian market in their sights and are using very "aggressive" membership schemes. None of this, however, seems to disturb Guy-Olivier Ducamp's sleep. In fact, Point S Development's Western Europe director has recently seen the expansion of the Italian network, which currently has 55 points of sale mainly in Northern Italy, take the top place in his agenda. Despite the complexities of a particularly competitive environment and a very demanding market, reaching our declared objective - to have in Italy about 200 points of sale within the next 3 years – has never been called into question. "True, vehicle manufacturers are currently creating their own retail programs in line with market development and, above all, customer expectations," admits Ducamp. However, this does not represent a problem for us, but rather an opportunity with exponential growth prospects: we are the only consortium of independent tire dealers in the world, present on four continents with a single brand and the same identical image".
Point S can already boast a foothold in 33 countries with a total of 3,600 points of sale, managed by more than 1,780 entrepreneurs which, along with other associated partners, are able to move over 17 million tires. And the expansion shows no signs of stopping. "Last year alone, every 2 days, an entrepreneur joined our network - confirms Ducamp - A few weeks ago, we took part in the first international challenge: a journey with 500 members of our network".
An appealing proposal
The "magic" behind Point S's success all over the world, and not only in Italy, lies in the overall package offered to the entrepreneur, which is based on the independent decision-making left entirely in the hands of each affiliated centre. "It is a cornerstone of our company’s philosophy: giving the entrepreneurs enough room to decide and then act accordingly, being fully convinced that they are able to do their job, better than anyone else - explains Guy-Olivier Ducamp . Our role is to support them, every day, creating new business opportunities to be implemented and developed within their business ". Everything is perfectly summarized in Point S’ new slogan for the Italian market - "my shop, my rules" -, created together with the late Guido Schiavon, president of Federpneus and founder of the Tires Sellers Club consortium who suddenly passed away on March 7th .
Independence, however, is not the only advantage offered by Point S to entice Italian tire dealers into joining its network: "The S of Point S stands for Safety and Services, - says Ducamp -. We believe that in order to make our proposal one of a kind, different elements must come together: a direct relationship with premium manufacturers, business development and diversification with a multi-service approach, access to an exclusive private brand (Point S has a private label for a line of products which includes spare parts, equipment and even tires), a 360° digital boutique concept (from B2B to Web2store), a focus on high-margin products (subscriptions, technical products, check and acceptance), benchmark, training, certifications and our All IN Point S "concept. The latter, in particular, is a complete "multi-service" assistance program launched a few months ago by the French network, a true reference point for the affiliates as well as the customers. Ducamp candidly admits his absolute confidence in such a program and is absolutely convinced that this is the right direction for all Italian members of the French network: "the mandatory use of winter tires, creates a business flow that usually lasts from three to five months a year in our workshops. The same is much lower at other times. The real question, therefore is, not "how much it costs to be a multi-service centre?", but rather "can you afford not to be one?", especially where tire retailers are responsible for handling storage and seasonal tire change on behalf of their clients. In Italy, we are looking at about two million cars, which will necessarily have to come back to us. MOT inspections and regular servicing are vital in getting to know our customers and convince them to return to our workshops".
Fast changing market
Working on the customer is, of course, the ultimate goal for any Point S member and the entire network’s strategy. And this is precisely where Point S firmly believes to add value to its members’ business. "The market and consumer behaviour have made life more difficult for our companies, so we need to be more prepared and focused on sales," says Guy-Olivier Ducamp. Although the digital age has equipped us with many tools to collect useful data and information about ever-changing purchasing behaviours and historical trend reports, knowing the final consumer is still crucial albeit complicated. "This is precisely what is making GAFA’s fortune (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) - underlines the Director of Point S Development Western Europe-. We are not a pure B2C player. We are not prepared to spend millions of euro to be high up in Google’s list of web-pages. Our only chance is to win long before the race begins, working upstream when processing data, using effectively web2store and multi-service channels". Within the year, Point S will launch a new portal to help its retailers to be increasingly digital. One thing is to know the customers, a completely different ball game is to serve them best. "Knowing how and what our customers look for, what they expects and what pleases them, puts us in the best position to serve them better, to be better prepared and better trained. The market has now taken a direction, it will not change so we have to do it ", confirms Ducamp. However, even before knowing the customer, it is necessary to look at ourselves first, know the individual workshops that make up the network, their strengths and their limitations, the equipment used, the suppliers and so on. For this reason, last January Point S launched a self-assessment program for each member: "this is the first step towards creating a common network standard, which could also be shared in the future by Federpneus". Having all the necessary approvals and certifications is certainly an element of strength, but to grow further, the network needs more visibility. So, there is a lot to be done in Italy from this point of view. "In France, the popularity of the brand reaches 80%. In Italy we are still below 5% - points out Ducamp. However, we must remember that the best known network in Italy barely reaches a 15% level of brand awareness. If some results have been achieved in such a short time, we rely on the expertise of each member to help us grow further". Meanwhile, Point S is planning an important investment strategy to increase brand visibility, through offline and online media besides enhancing the image of each workshop in the network.
Ducamp says he is absolutely optimistic, not only about the possibility to win the challenge, that is to expand the Point S network in Italy according to well defined targets, but also the challenge within the challenge, that is, to continue this expansion process in a particularly complex historical context. "Italy now as an alternative. We have prepared the ground. We have set the course together with our first partners, comparing our situation on a daily basis with the development of all the other markets in which we are already present - says Ducamp -. And now we are here to reach our goal: a strong and widespread network presence in Italy. We are willing and able, we are tire specialists working for other tire specialists, and as long as tire dealers are around, this will be our responsibility!"