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Michelin wagers on enhanced customer experience



Porrettana Gomme of Casalecchio di Reno (Bologna) is the starting point of a new project aimed at enhancing customer experience and product performance, destined to be extended to other cities

Guido Gambassi

Adding value to the retailer’s expertise and the quality of Michelin products, putting the customer right in the middle of the picture: this has always been Michelin’s philosophy.

This strategy includes a new layout project that starts from an important and consolidated reality such as Porrettana Gomme in Casalecchio di Reno, just outside Bologna. Taking advantage of the inauguration of the new retail point, in June, we spoke with Stefano Adagio, Michelin Italy's B2C sales manager, who illustrated the reasons behind this step.

"This project is based on Michelin's desire to accompany the customer throughout the decision making process when first purchasing and then using its tires, with the aim of creating the best possible experience for the customers," comments Adagio. "Porrettana Gomme has been an important customer of ours for many years, and this is the first step in a new journey, which entails looking for specialized operators in big Italian cities who share our same philosophy: serving the customer and enhancing our products following what has always been our guideline, the inherent value of our tires. Price is certainly a crucial element when purchasing an item, but we believe that its inherent value is equally important, especially in terms of the relationship between benefits and costs, where the performance of the product (right up until the last kilometre, according to long lasting performance philosophy) is the most important element. In addition we believe in the vital role played by customer experience, guiding our clients from the moment of choosing a set of tires to after-sales service, not as a mechanical act but an emotional experience. Hence this project includes a customized area where Michelin and Porrettana Gomme can jointly welcome a client with a technological approach designed to accompany him in an experience that will enhance our tires, a concentrate of innovation and technology".

The project concerned approximately 350 square metres of the retail point, dedicated to the acceptance phase and as waiting room, which have been totally renovated to welcome customers offering them unprecedented comfort and emotional impact. Today, within the two-storey facility, waiting clients can enjoy images and videos linked to the world of motor racing, as well as an exclusive relaxation area with attention to detail. The new layout of the area is inspired by the company’s mascot, the Michelin Man, and hosts an exhibition of the French manufacturers road and racing tire range.

"We are extremely happy with this collaboration with Michelin. The Casalecchio store is the latest Porrettana Gomme sales point opened and, as usual, we aim to provide a professional service to our customers. The new look fits perfectly with our colours, creating a pleasant though hi-tech environment, maintaining a sober and elegant appearance at the same time", says Marco Gandolfi, owner of Porrettana Gomme. Marco represents the second generation of the company, originally founded by Giuseppe Gandolfi and Luciano Borrelli, which now has four stores (the first, in Porretta Terme, two in Pistoia besides the one in Casalecchio) and a tire retreading plant; a 360 degree offer.

"Our desire is to grow further - continues Gandolfi -, and this happens to be our latest investment and the most important, we are looking at 5,000 square metres in an area of 12,000 metres, two sheds, one for light and heavy commercial vehicles as well as warehouse and customer depot, and one for cars, bikes and e-bikes (proof of how we are diversifying our offer; right from our first store where we have created a new e-bike showroom). With Michelin we have created a project aimed at involving the customer, going beyond a simple tire change".

Expertise, quality, competence and dedication to customer service are the mutual values shared by Michelin and Porrettana Gomme, the foundation stone of this historic collaboration. But how is the role of the tire dealer evolving? "Italy is the kind of market where 90% of the customers still go to a store to buy tires and have them mounted" answers Stefano Adagio, "therefore, the physical presence of a store is still important, even though the internet is fast becoming a protagonist, as in other European countries, so it should not be underestimated. We believe that retailers must be aware of market trends and be prepared to follow them, but for this to happen, a thorough technical preparation is needed, as customers are better informed about what the market offers through the net: nowadays, 70% of the consumers will do their homework before purchasing anything, which means that the retailer must be prepared and able to argue in favour of a product and the value it represents, which involves more than explaining the technical details of the products; all the services that revolve around tires and vehicles must be well explained as well”. How will this new synergy with the stores continue? "Numbers are not everything - concludes Stefano Adagio -, we are interested in sharing a business philosophy based on quality and expertise. We are talking to other operators and hopefully, by the end of the year, we will have other partners as part of this project".

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