The digital "heart" of the workshop
We are living in an age where everything is digital and connected. A tire dealer's toolbox must include a dedicated management software
"Nowadays, we can talk about onlife, because everything is connected." These few words, by sociologist Francesco Morace, professor of social innovation at the Politecnico di Milano and president of Future Concept Lab, summarize the present and the future of all global social models, of the vast majority of industrial sectors including the automotive aftermarket. This is "not an era of change but a change of era", as Morace himself defines it, and it is therefore vital that tire dealers upgrade their daily operations into a digital "unicum coerente", a systemic model void of any internal contradictions. Industry 4.0, big data, Internet of things are all conceptual terms used to describe the future. And the automotive aftermarket is no exception. The first fundamental step towards this highly digitized and connected future, is acquiring dedicated management software designed to plan and monitor all sales and service activities. A suitable management system is no longer a "plus", but rather a "conditio sine qua non" to offer a quick, customer-centric service and remain competitive. But what is a management software? How does it work? How can it simplify the work of a tire specialist or a wholesaler and guarantee greater connectivity? What can it be used for?
Just about everything, really; or rather, any kind of work that does not require the use of a screwdriver or a car lift, but finds its “raison d’ètre” in a computer, can become a matter for a management software system: from sending quotes to placing orders, from acceptance to electronic invoicing, from stock monitoring to procurement, from managing personal data to accounting, not to mention deposit accounts, ELT management, as well as producing complex in-depth studies on the state of the business. All this becomes vital at a time when it is no longer sufficient for a tire dealer to be a good artisan, but is called upon to become a capable and far-sighted entrepreneur. As margins are increasingly tight, the one tool that cannot be missing in the toolbox of an aftermarket operator is a computer program capable of promoting an efficient and dynamic approach to the business - in a word - digital.
A growing number of small tire dealers, as well as large sales and service centres, are also feeling the digitally upgrade their business, and currently, the market boasts several products able to meet this demand. The difficult part is selecting, among countless solutions designed for all kinds of needs and all kinds of pockets, the one that best suits your business, in line with the current market context and potentially able to evolve with the industry. Purchasing a product means entering into a business relationship with the seller, who must therefore ensure proper training, assistance and consistency of service over time.
Developed by X-Data, an Italian company that in 2019 will celebrate 40 years of activity, the Esapneus management software is currently used by over 450 specialist dealers and tire wholesalers throughout the country. Using Windows as the chosen operative system and available as a "stand alone" or "cloud" solution, Esapneus provides for a wide range of functions, which can be suited to the specific needs of the user, working alongside the customers in their entrepreneurial mission. Among the strong points of the product we must mention advanced management modules for the store, from business appointments to seasonal deposit accounts, integrated accounting forms, supported by business intelligence, or the distribution of service and price lists. All Esapneus modules are directly developed by X-Data, taking into account, right from the designing phase, the specific needs of the sector. As far as prices are concerned, Esapneus starts from a few thousand euro, but can exceed tens of thousands, depending on the level of customization, amount of functions chosen and the number of licenses purchased.
StudioPneus, instead, is a management system for tire dealers signed by Arcadia, a service company with more than twenty years of experience in the field of software dedicated to tire dealers. On the market since 1997, the company boasts over 100 systems sold and installed throughout Italy, to which we can ideally add another software, FintyrePos Manager, a management software developed by Arcadia in 2011 on behalf of Fintyre. StudioPneus was designed and produced, with the active contribution of many of the sector’s operators, to meet many of the specific needs of the average retailer: from managing personal data to warehousing, from purchasing to sales, from deposit accounts to recalls following a manufacturer’s notice of unsafe goods, from vehicle and fleet management service to electronic invoicing, not to mention additional services such as ELT management, labelling data, communication with customers via SMS or e-mail to plan interventions and promotional leaflets and dedicated discounts, complete accounting services along with several business intelligence tools such as advanced statistics and graphic charts on products sold/purchased. StudioPneus is available in three versions - basic, medium and professional – with increasingly sophisticated functions depending on the package chosen. In any case, each of these can be further customized with additional functions and modules not found in standard products. StudioPneus is currently sold as a stand-alone solution, but a cloud version will soon be available. List prices for StudioPneus range from 1,000 euro for the basic standard version to 2,000 for the complete professional package.
Pneus Suite, on the other hand, is the alternative offer by Ntc Informatica, a company with thirty years of experience in the development of management systems for the tire sector. Launched in 2003, Pneus Suite was developed on TeamSystem’s platform (a company that provides business management solutions and services) with Windows chosen as the operative system. Each Pneus Suite program is the result of a tailor-made project, creating solutions that are truly custom-made around the customer's needs.
Pneus Suite offer includes a basic package, which includes generic sales and service management activities (Pneus Prime), which can be integrated with several other functions: PneusChange looks after the seasonal tire storage; Pneus Optima, instead, caters for scheduled tire maintenance (but can be used to offer light mechanical work); Pneus Plan is a workshop booking service (managed through data entered by the dealer as well as an app), while Pneus Fleets is dedicated, as the name suggests, to fleet management services. All this can be further upgraded using My PneusApp, a digital mobile platform that all end customers can consult to book tire replacements and maintenance, keep track of vehicle servicing, receive and manage communications in real time. To date, about 25 companies, with 180 customers throughout Italy, have already chosen Pneus Suite, which can be installed as a "stand alone" solution or in a "dedicated cloud". Costs vary depending on the configuration chosen. Pneus Suite is a product in continuous evolution: the next step will be to interface the program with on-board vehicle systems and workshop 4.0 equipment.
Maxgest is the result of an ongoing collaboration between the distributor Maxtyre (Univergomma group) and the software house Dalt. It stands as a tailor-made product designed to help tire dealers manage their business (customer and supplier management, accounting, fleet management, deposit account, schedules, quotations, invoices, tax receipts, work vouchers, etc.). Maxgest's strengths are its extreme ease of use – just a few hours of training are needed - and a very competitive price - a few hundred euro to purchase of the only license needed to run the program on all computers in the same store, including installation and annual maintenance -. Maxtyre goes as far as offering the program to its customers as part of incentive programmes linking it to the achievement of specific purchasing targets.
In addition to standard functions provided by any other management system, Maxgest offers many advantages especially to Maxtyre customers, such as a virtual view of the warehouse, quick document management, automatic updating of price lists, of ELT costs and information on new products. Despite this "fast track", Maxgest still leaves a door open to other suppliers. The only difference for the user is that third-party data must be uploaded manually into the system, however, on the plus side, it is possible to import data from old management systems used by the customer. Finally, this year, a barcode management services has been introduced.
Maxgest is offered mainly as a "stand alone" program. However, it is possible to request a “cloud-based” option. To date, Maxtyre is used by about 200 customers, mainly distributed in central and southern Italy, but the quality of the product and its competitive advantages have fuelled a significant word-of-mouth and prompted several tyre dealers in northern Italy to request its installation. Univergomma itself has enriched its range of offers including MaxGest in its portfolio. Hence, the program has now reached nationwide coverage.