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With company reorganization completed, the distributor based in Reggio Emilia is  sharpening its weapons for the re-launch of a new portfolio of products, an approach oriented towards consultancy for customers, and a short-list of after-sales services for entering the MOT centre and garage channel

Francesco Lojola

YESTERDAY, A PROLONGED management crisis to be overcome by beginning a re-launch; today, a negative market situation to be turned into a positive opportunity. Now that its profit and loss account is just a step away from being in the black again, for SIPAV, the distributor of automotive equipment and consumables in the CEMB group, the challenge has been defined: to become the reference sales network throughout Italy. Andrea Vezzani, managing director of the company based in Reggio Emilia, is clear about it: “Now that we’ve put the company back on the rails through total reorganization, a more streamlined structure, the elimination of pockets of inefficiency to focus objectives in a strategic direction, and a completely new product portfolio, we must proceed with the same commitment”. And with the momentum guaranteed by the owner of the company, “whose support” – confirmed Gino Borella, CEMB sales manager Europe for the garage equipment division – “has always been total”, in the framework of an offer strategy inspired by best of breed and a policy of substantial incentives for the sales force. “On the one side” – Vezzani explained – “we have aimed at promoting responsibility and an incentive approach, and on the other, a very successful training programme”. Three distinct modules for a training course of an entire year.

Expertise and guarantees
Preparation achieved with the contribution of frequent technical full-immersion in various products coupled with marketing-oriented sessions based on comparative analyses of direct competitors’ products and their respective positioning. “In addition” – Vezzani added – “we offer a standard guarantee of 24 months, or 36 in the case of the framework agreement with Michelin. It is proof of the confidence in the quality of our products. On the one hand, we have selected the parent company’s brands in the respective sectors, on the other, we have worked a lot on customers of a higher level”. Apart from CEMB’s traditional balancers and aligners, SIPAV also distributes Giuliano tyre changers, Maha equipment for pre-MOTs and MOTs, the most modern 3D wheel alignment systems, TruckCam truck aligners, and the hydraulic ramps of leading Italian companies, “with the intention” – Borella continued – “of providing excellent coverage of all product segments, because we are also free to work with other suppliers in line with our positioning. This has played a determining role in the re-launch of a company that had growth in 2009 and 2010 but maintained revenues at the same level; last year’s turnover was about € 8 million”. Today, SIPAV has 20 employees (from 35 in 2008), about ten exclusive external technicians and about fifty agents coordinated by the company’s three area managers.

After-sales first and foremost
Its product portfolio also includes consumables but there is no more space for the line dedicated to cycling. “For all the brands we have requested the exclusive for Italy because of the amount we invest in commercial actions”, from training to the CRM system, which are ready to be managed centrally. Then there is after-sales: “The jewel in our crown”  – Vezzani stated – which begins with installation by a specialized technician, not by the salesperson, to ensure that customers are able to use the equipment properly. If they can’t, they might think they haven’t made a good investment” and decide not to buy anything else from SIPAV. “Our technicians support customers, who can also take advantage of the free training sessions held at our base; when they have completed their training they can comment about it in a special form. It is monitoring that continues over time”. As to assistance, all the technicians travel with a stock of spare parts in their vans, so the problem is frequently solved by the end of the callout. At the depot in Reggio Emilia, SIPAV keeps the majority of models ready for immediate delivery, an average capital investment of € 1.5 million: “It is a remunerative investment because when equipment is no longer worth repairing, customers often want to replace it immediately”.


New channel objective
In addition to the traditional target of tyre specialists, for a couple of years now the company has been focusing also on the operators of MOT centres through an agreement with 600 Dekra affiliates; it is now looking at independent garages with the aim of expanding a presence that to date has been linked to a group of dealerships. “For a long time many have turned up their noses at tyres, but the economy has changed the cards on the table; on the other hand, a growing number of tyre specialists are also equipped for light mechanics. With the garage project we want to learn the language and fundamental skills in order to extend our range of action.
The current situation helps us because those who are already at the top have to cope with a declining segment, but because we are coming out of a long critical stage, we are fully prepared for taking advantage of all opportunities”.


• Prago converted 
A portfolio of mono-sector brands, continuing education for salespeople and sporadic attention to after sales. The SIPAV philosophy has had converts, and the model adopted by Ascoli-based distributor Prago is confirmation. “We left our only multi-product supplier”  – said owner Ferdinando Buscema – “and after 17 years in business, in 2011 we chose  the strategy of a short-list of firms each specializing in a specific field. A complete change that is rewarding us”. The company distributes the products represented by SIPAV in the Adriatic area between Ancona and Foggia and has six salespeople, two technicians, a course room and a showroom for presentations and practical demonstrations. “Customers come here to see the different machines and get to know their characteristics. Its popularity has been confirmed by the success of the “open doors” initiative that we have been having since 2007. Last year was the greatest success: we had 300 visitors in one day alone”. Then there are the courses, an integral part of after sales: “They are essential for finding out about the equipment’s high technological content and more useful than ever nowadays because of the high turnover in personnel”.

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