THE AFTERMARKET IN "GREEN SAUCE"
The recent entrance of Autobox Snc (Turin) in Petronas’ garage network is only the latest step taken by the Malaysian brand in its expansion strategy. The target? To achieve a wider recognition of the role played by lubricants in the workshop
A service network created around a large international automotive brand, whose values of excellence and quality dominate its multi-service aftermarket offer. If it were all here, there would be little else to add about Autobox’s move to join the Petronas Lubricants International’s workshop network, which already boasts as many as 2,300 affiliates across Europe and more than 1,000 in Italy alone. However, since this isn’t the whole story, we need to point out that the recent opening of this large workshop is part of a wider project aimed at making Petronas a true point of reference in the lubricants market, and contribute to spread knowledge and awareness about the real value of its products. "We have accepted the challenge of raising the average motorist’s awareness about the advantages offered by the regular use of quality lubricants - explains Alessandro Orsini, PLI Europe regional Head -. In fact, oil is an essential element for the engine: it contributes to extend its working life, preserving its efficiency over time. On the other hand, as a product it is often viewed as unattractive and is thus underestimated by most users. Our workshops, therefore, are looking at creating a “lubricant culture", with ad hoc services through which our customers can obtain information and guarantees about the use of our products".
Reaching such a goal without a widespread presence on the market, or establishing close partnerships with highly specialized centres, according to PLI, is just not possible. This is why the company is pursuing a growth strategy that aims to expand the network to about 4,000 centres across Europe - 1,800 in Italy - by 2019. And this is, by all means, another distinctive element of this story. In fact, as our speaker confirms, in the lubricant segment the tendency is to communicate with workshops and car centres through sales representatives. So Petronas decided to turn the whole issue around, in the belief that, becoming a real partner with a player like Autobox, which represents the first contact with the motorist, is crucial in promoting the value and quality of the product to all users.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS FOR THE SPECIALISTS
Being part of a network of specialized and selected workshops, spread out across Europe, offers many opportunities to companies in terms of increasing internal know-how and developing the offer to the public through some of the most advanced products currently available – in this specific case, Petronas lubricants, which happen to be also the result of its commitment to Formula 1 racing - as well as end-to-end services with a higher perceived value. "We want to offer workshops innovative elements to increase their business as well as customer loyalty and retention - explains Orsini -. It's a win-win policy that looks at making us grow together. Our workshop network is growing rapidly all over Europe and the recent agreement with Autobox is a further proof that the best specialists in the sector look for partners who can offer them innovation and technology."
AUTOBOX, A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF PETRONAS’ STRATEGY
Founded in 1989 as a small accessories and spare parts shop, Autobox is a real landmark in the South-West area of Turin. With its many years of experience in the automotive aftermarket sector and its 1,500 square metres entirely dedicated to selling spare parts and accessories, besides assistance and maintenance services, was the perfect partner for Petronas, embodying the concept of flagship workshop and identified as the best selling point for high quality products such as Petronas Syntium with CoolTech technology, three times F1 world champion with the Mercedes AMG Petronas team. "For almost 30 years we have been marketing premium accessories and spare parts - says Roberto Comba, Autobox owner -. To expand our offer both in terms of product and services, we decided to join the Petronas garage network: our desire is to collaborate only with high-level players in our sector. The expertise offered by Petronas, as well as Autobox, together with their strong brand image - states Comba - will help us to consolidate our position and boost our turnover."
A NETWORK FOR ALL
Contrary to popular belief, Petronas' expansion project is not addressed only to large Autobox-style garages. Rather, "the ideal make up of our network is: 15% large centres, about 35% medium size companies and over 50% small workshops - says Alessandro Orsini -. We think that smaller companies have the greatest advantage, because the initial investment needed to enter our network is really limited (management software and customized working spaces) compared to the benefits that can be obtained in terms of distinction from the competition and customer base expansion."
The network development strategy is just one aspect of Petronas’ broader growth strategy. "In Italy, turnover keeps going up in double digit figures and we’re aiming to double our market share by 2022 - says Orsini -. Italy is and will continue to be one of our main European markets: by next spring, a new research and development centre will open in Turin, where the European headquarters of Petronas Lubricants International is located, which we hope will become a global reference point for the company."
PETRONAS SYNTIUM TECHNOLOGY CORNER: EACH CAR HAS ITS OIL
There is a strategic area "hidden" in the Autobox Petronas workshop. Right there, very advanced equipment, designed by Petronas, allow the specialists to offer each customer not just any oil, but "the" oil, the most suitable for their car. This is the Petronas Syntium Technology Corner and is a lubricant delivery system that makes oil changing operations efficient and faster, but above all adds value to the entire operation. Through a tablet, the operator can consult the Fluditech Guide available on the PLI website and then select the specific oil for each vehicle model on the market. The Petronas Syntium Technology Corner in each affiliated workshop, aims to increase the customers' awareness about the hi-tech contents of its products. "Our corners halve the time needed for regular oil change services - says Alessandro Orsini, PLI Europe regional Head -. Time that can be used by both the customer and the specialist in making the experience as a whole richer in content."
A FESTIVAL WITHIN A FESTIVAL
Roberto Comba's Autobox’s entrance into the large Petronas Lubricants garage network was celebrated on October 15 with a full day of events. Thousands of enthusiasts and onlookers arrived, and not only from the province of Turin, to visit the new premises of the car centre, take a close look at the F1 Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport car, winner of four world championships, exhibited outside the premises as well as try the original simulator used by the team. Present at the inauguration, Davide Valsecchi, former racing driver and currently a TV presenter, commented on an oil change operation through the innovative Petronas Syntium Corner inside the Autobox workshop. After the ribbon cutting ceremony, which took place in the presence of the Italian PLI management and a few local authorities, Valsecchi himself then drove a number of laps on the nearby Cerrina kart circuit. The time set by the former racer was taken as a reference for other drivers as they tried their luck at beating Valsecchi. In fact, several lucky enthusiasts, from all over Italy, after registering through a special Petronas app, have in fact been able to drive for about ten laps to try to equal (or perhaps beat) Valsecchi's time. The best was then awarded a ticket for the next Monza Grand Prix.
WHAT IS PETRONAS LUBRICANTS INTERNATIONAL
Petronas Lubricants International (PLI), is a division of the National Malaysian oil company dedicated to producing and marketing lubricants. Founded in 2008, Petronas Lubricants International currently operates in over 80 markets globally, employing more than 2,300 people in 30 locations, spread across 27 countries, managed through regional offices based in Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Turin, Belo Horizonte, Chicago and Durban. Currently ranked among the top 10 in the world, PLI is engaged in an ambitious business growth program aimed at consolidating its position as one of the leading international lubricants manufacturer.