Point S ready for a technological leap
Innovation in the workshop
Great news for the French group's affiliates. Focus on digital solutions, new business opportunities and training
Francesca Del Bello
How to cope with every day activities in the workshop, the changes in the market and the challenges posed by a relentless technological evolution: this is the message with which Guy-Olivier Ducamp, Western Europe director of Point S, opened the group's Italian Convention, which took place on the 14th and 15th February in the coastal town of Portorož, Slovenia. The event was an opportunity to share goals, strategies and news with the group’s affiliates, and to reflect on the importance of being part of a team working together for a common goal.
The French group is undergoing a great expansion and currently relies on about 5500 points of sale spread over four continents, as explained by the CEO Fabien Bouquet: the mission is to become a global player. In fact, last year Point S arrived on the Asian markets, with openings in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Philippines: within this market, the most important agreement was the one signed with two Chinese partners, which allowed the opening of 1250 stores in China, and the goal is to reach 3000 stores in the country. Equally important is the expansion in North America where, between the United States and Canada, the group has 1100 points of sale. Point S is also present on the African continent, with a significant presence in South Africa (95 stores) but also in Algeria, Morocco and Ivory Coast. Of course, as expected the group is a major force in Europe where - according to the data provided by Bouquet - the recent opening of more than 200 new points of sale testifies about the constant growth of the group. An expansion that can represent a major benefit for all affiliates: first, Bouquet explained, we have standing agreements with the world’s premium manufacturers in the automotive sector; the European headquarters helps and supports its subsidiaries from a financial, commercial and organizational point of view. In addition to these ideas and the global visibility of the brand, what Bouquet insists on is the opportunity to "share know-how and experience. Our global presence can support you in your independence as an entrepreneur, and at the same time it can support you in the profitability of your business," he explained when addressing Italian affiliates directly. "This is the focus of our two days: we want to help our Italian members in having a profitability business. This is where Point S differs from its competitors: Point S is a buying group, but our focus is on retail, enhancing business volumes in and out of the store," concluded Bouquet.
A flow of clients towards the point of sale that, today more than ever, must be supported online, increasing a store’s visibility on social networks with simple yet effective digital marketing strategies. This is where belonging to a network can be crucial: "our global presence helps us to develop and invest in global marketing tools, such as Crm programs", said Fabien Bouquet in his opening speech. By way of example, Bouquet spoke about the newly born Chinese network: in that market, around 40% of customers arrive at Point S centres thanks to a digital marketing activity made up of messages and news that remind drivers of the importance of car maintenance, steering potential customers towards the service centre. The network, therefore, offers a series of tools to its affiliates to optimize their online presence and to benefit from the advantages offered by the "digital" world. Some of these products were illustrated during the weekend in Portorož: among them, Autronica which, through the words of the key account manager Ermanno Passalenti, presented an online quotation service which, on the one hand, allows the tire dealer to configure his own labour price and as well as discounts available to the client and, on the driver's side, allows him to obtain a precise cost estimate and then take an appointment. When it comes to the web, Passalenti points out that the key words are, "being there". Thus, consolidating one's online presence becomes an increasingly necessary strategic action.
Alongside the optimization of digital strategies, it is becoming increasingly necessary to offer a series of services that complete the traditional activities normally offered in the workshop: thanks to the agreement signed between Point S and Unipol Sai, network members will have the opportunity, after completing a training course, to offer their customers the service of underwriting motor liability policies. Stefano Soncini of UnipolSai underlined the goals pursued by the two companies in carrying out this project: to give added value to Point S member, offer the possibility to build customer loyalty and, last but not least, to offer all affiliates the possibility of increasing its profitability.
Expanding the services offered often means trying to intercept new portions of the market: among these, fleets represent an interesting business opportunity. Intercepting fleet managers (professional figures who, among other things, have the task of "channelling" their vehicles towards car repair shops) means coming into contact with rental fleets that often cover twice as many kilometres as normal cars. By coming into contact with fleets, however, it is necessary to apply a different management model from what is normally used for motorists: the objective of Csm 360, thanks to the agreement with Point S, is precisely to assist the affiliates who intends to open their business in this market. The founder of Csm 360, Simone Guidi, also underlines the importance of embracing a "multiservice" approach: "being multiservice means increasing the number of vehicles entering the workshop, reducing structure costs", explains the manager, "multiservice is a vital element for the future".
Of course, training plays a central role in every moment of one's professional career: it is therefore important to constantly update and deepen one's knowledge and skills, acquiring new ones, overcoming one's resistance and limitations. Technical skills, of course, are fundamental, but equally important are "soft skills", those transversal abilities that are independent of everyone's professional activity, but that help the individual to improve personally and - consequently - professionally. Point S therefore sets itself the objective of accompanying the affiliate in its path of growth - and, why not, of change - through a series of specific collaborations.