INDEPENDENT DEALERS NEEDED! TSC BETS ON THE FUTURE
The Tsc consortium
Formed in a delimited area of the Triveneto, the Tires Sellers Club partnership aims at strengthening its position in Lombardy as well as expanding into Emilia Romagna recruiting new partners, granting them an independent status, released from any commitment towards suppliers
Small is beautiful, if it stands the test of time. In other words, if the underlying principle proves resilient despite time and changes. The Tires Sellers Club is definitely small, both in numbers (of partners) and catchment area, when compared to other national retail networks supported directly by tire manufacturers. As a whole, about forty points of sale make up the partnership, distributed between Triveneto and a section of Lombardy. The TSC consortium, though, is an independent reality, one of the few left on the market after the natural selection caused by the economic recession, during the last 5 years, as well as a fierce competition and a renewed interest towards franchises, which has progressively redefined the future of specialized retailers. “26 years later – TSC consortium’s CEO Guido Schiavon emphasizes – we are still in full form, showing that the basic principles behind this commercial partnership are still valid today”. The idea of teaming up to reduce the stocks without losing purchasing power is at the root of the consortium. “We immediately realized that figures would have been very promising if we joined forces, and this gave birth to a new purchasing group through which new agreements with premium manufacturers were made possible”. From Continental, Michelin and Pirelli to Yokohama, and recently Vredestein.
A strong presence in a delimited area
Now the consortium, determined to maintain its independent status, is betting on the future: “This means – highlights Schiavon – increasing the number of partners, reasonably extending our territorial coverage to include Lombardy and Emilia Romagna, reaffirming our philosophy centered around a strong territorial coverage within a delimited area. Which is what has allowed us to remain independent, while enjoying the same advantages that tire manufacturers and their retail networks enjoy, in terms of supplier/customer relationship and range of services”. Concerning the economic conditions, “the purchasing volume allows us to receive the best possible discounts and, at the same time, everyone is able to establish its own commercial space, choosing the most suitable brand or product within the consortium’s portfolio, without having to be bound to or conditioned by single suppliers or manufacturers”. In other words, each partner can decide its own approach to the market, even trying different things from the competition, and subsequently changing again if there is a need for it. “For example – says the consortium’s CEO – if a large retail store, marketing the same brand products, should open nearby, our partners can decide to switch to other products or different brands”. Therefore, being independent means always having a plan B. “Even if a given producer’s goods struggle to meet the client’s requirements. It is the advantage of not having to serve the purpose of any specific manufacturer, while their affiliates are compelled to buy specific ranges and quantities of products whether sold or unsold”.
Quality, reputation and solvency
Here is what the TSC consortium guarantees to potential new partners, who, in return, would be required to purchase a stake in the share capital, and pay a fee for the first year, which includes the right to access a package of services such as commercial and training support. "Further requirements are - says Schiavon - fairness, solvency and compliance with professional ethics, as we are all accountable towards our suppliers, along with a good reputation: a store with a good standard, which already represents a landmark in their reference area".
Doing business under the current market conditions has become rather difficult, and even the most “diehard” independent operator should have realized it by now. “Moreover, the new partner, following his affiliation, besides doing business as usual (under the condition that the new affiliate will deal only with the consortium’s product range), with the advantage of enjoying the commercial conditions granted to the consortium, will also retain its independent identity: in other words, no need to conform to a common image, something we have never considered as necessary. Furthermore, nowadays an independent tire dealer works, on average, with about a couple of brands in their portfolio: once with us they will have access to a much larger range of products”. Five main suppliers with a range of offers going from premium to standard and budget brands, accessible at the dealer’s own discretion, in order to offer the most suitable brand in any given moment, with a view to future growth prospects.
On-going training and upgrading program.
"This will allow our affiliates - resumes Schiavon – to weather any storm, considering that we are there to support them during every negotiation. Adding to this, another priceless advantage is the opportunity to attend numerous courses organized with the manufacturers themselves: from sessions dedicated to business management, for retail store owners, to technical update seminars on the latest products, not to mention workshops focusing on welcoming customers. Thanks to our agreements, even members who do not work with a given supplier will still be invited to a seminar organized by that same supplier". Business management and analysis of financial statements courses are held thanks to Goodyear, while courses on product support, innovation as well as customer loyalty are managed by Michelin. Despite dealing with Michelin tires, purely independent specialists do not have this opportunity. Moreover, partners will receive a number of marketing tools that every manufacturer makes available. "Eventually we were able to obtain from our suppliers all those commercial assets that go beyond the mere commercial purchase. In addition to providing quality products at fair conditions, our partner has access to multiple services without paying additional fees. And if a partner should no longer feel at ease or comfortable within the consortium, he can decide to leave at any time without any penalty: the amount paid for the share capital will be returned". Nowadays, the consortium’s commitments rest on two key issues: on the one hand electronics, and the necessity to familiarize with it, and customer service skills and techniques on the other. "In relation to the former, we are organizing a training program; but as far as the latter - concludes Schiavon – it is the single dealer’s responsibility to communicate effectively with an increasingly attentive and informed clientele as well as knowing how to best use the different tools available to promote customer loyalty ". More information is available on www.tscpd.it .
UNITED THOUGH INDEPENDENT
With thirty-two partners and forty retail stores, the TSC consortium has remained faithful to its original principles: independence from suppliers and decision-making autonomy, being joined only by the share capital against the consortium’s collective buying power. This has been the idea since 1989, when Guido Schiavon, an executive in a couple of manufacturing companies back then, decided to involve in this initiative four of his main clients. With two basic choices: involve only retailers (except for a period) thus preventing partners with distribution activities from competing with other associated retail stores and, at the same time, enhancing the identity of the individual, avoiding to bring each one under TSC’s umbrella. A way to emphasize everyone’s identity and develop individual characteristics. A further binding choice was establishing direct relationships with premium suppliers, in order to receive all-round support.