Choosing a partner for long-term co-operation is always preceded by a deep market analysis. Of course, the most promising seems working with the leaders, or at least top 3 players in the chosen segment. That is why when choosing a partner for equipping modern gas stations with automatic coffee machine we made our decision in favor of the German company WMF. It produces not the cheapest, and truth be told – one of the most expensive solutions. However, WMF is usually chosen by HoReCa leaders, therefore, in almost every corner of the world you can find a WMF coffee machine.
After-sales service – a moveable feast
The times when the price of the goods was the only instrument in the competition, are long gone. Today, the winning side is not the one who sells cheap, but the one that is able to provide a truly high-tech product with good functionality and decent reliability. However, many manufacturers producing excellent hardware after some time start to lose their position in the market, where, apparently, they should “divide and conquer”. The reason is really simple: ok, you closed the deal, but what’s next? Who will provide the equipment with quality consumables and will conduct timely maintenance works? Many manufacturers mistakenly believe that after-sales service is the exclusive concern of the operating company, in our case – of gas station’s owner. Mind games, but any malfunction even in the world’s best hardware usually attributed by the customer to the poor quality of production. It’s a proverbial speck in someone else’s eye. And it never occurs to admit the damage caused by the desire to save some money on maintenance works or on use of Chinese spare parts while repairing.
The examples are not difficult to be found – there are plenty in our automotive world. Toyota and Lexus are still considered among the most reliable car brands, but have you ever tried to figure out – why? Of course, the Japanese are very sensitive to the quality of production, but they also pay great attention to customer satisfaction. «Customer first» – this is the main principle of Toyota. Try to ask the responsible for customer services of Toyota in the Russian Federation: “Why do you recommend carrying out first session of maintenance works to the Russian car owners of your brand after 10 000 km instead of 15 or 20, like most of your competitors? After all, each visit to the technical center has a certain cost and is time-consuming!”. The answer is simple: “For Toyota, the main thing is car owner’s satisfaction with his purchase. Saving his money is not among the main priorities of the company. Reduced service interval allows experts to conduct more operations, to quickly identify problems and resolve them in a preventive manner”. As a result – Toyota has one of the most loyal audiences among car owners.
The need for quality service, even inexpensive, can be seen in Mazda’s example. Prior to the company’s decision to open its own representative office in Russia, import of cars of this brand was led by several dealers. Each of them had its policy on both sales and service. With the official arrival of the manufacturer this has changed, seemingly for the worse. For example, the import of spare parts that as of now is centralized saw a 20% price surge. However, it was soon followed by the growth of new car sales and workloads of dealership locksmith shops. Paradox? Not at all! Common standards, guaranteed quality of spare parts and quality control service did their job. Mazda owners felt the care of themselves and repaid hundredfold.
High quality of hardware involves corresponding quality of service
The situation with WMF coffee machines today in the Russian market makes you think hard: is it enough to have high quality product only? Equipment is fairly expensive, which for the buying company means trouble-free operation for a long time. However, the manufacturer for a long time did not pay enough attention to the creation of coffee machines after-sales service on the Russian market, leaving distributors to decide as to what extent they should provide servicing of WMF equipment sold by them to their customers. Usually, during the first 12 months of operation coffee machines don’t show any serious problems. This allows would-be distributors derive immediate benefits from the sales of a famous brand. They sell the equipment at dumping prices, throwing customers one on one with any emerging issues that require the presence of seller’s trained technicians and spare parts warehouse.
Coffee machines remote monitoring
Facing the operational issues and not receiving proper technical support, customers blamed manufacturer. The number of dissatisfied customers grew and the competitors were quick to take advantage of it. RusHOLTS, the official distributor of WMF coffee machines in the Russian Federation, builds its work on the principles of long-term cooperation and meet partners’ expectations by making great efforts to ensure the stability of business linked to WMF – primarily due to the quality of after-sales service and the use of IT-solutions, which have no analogues in Russia and European markets.
For example, we have created a unique monitoring system of coffee machines, which allows among other things to deal with the sale of coffee by gas station employees for cash and without receipts. Experience has shown that up to 30% of total coffee sales revenue generated by station’s staff was going to their pockets – a huge figure, defamatory for coffee business as a whole. Even merchandisers, periodically visiting the station, could not turn the tide. Field experts often came in collusion with the operators, and even helped them to hide resold volumes.
Our remote monitoring system eliminates the possibility of collusion, simultaneously the owner of coffee machine always have objective information about the volume of sales and the technical condition of the equipment. In addition, we have paid attention to the poor quality of original spare parts. Trying to save on parts leads to the need for more frequent repairs due to breakdowns and long idle hours. RusHOLTS therefore decided to organize a stock of original spare parts in Moscow and St. Petersburg along with the work of service technicians that could quickly respond to any customers’ problems.
Our Monitoring Center , has no analogues in Russia and enables WMF to have on-line information on the operational status of all coffee machines that are connected to the system, including reporting on the activities of service companies that are serving these coffee machines.
However, all efforts may be in vain if the manufacturer does not dare to produce a dramatic change in policy on after-sales service in the Russian market. RusHOLTS’ work in this direction may not be enough to prevent the discrediting of the brand which is being uncontrollably “promoted” by several companies with different approach to business. I hope that soon WMF will analyze its coffee machines’ customer feedback. I think even this would be enough to correct business model towards greater customer focus. The combined efforts of producers and distributors will provide a synergistic effect.