Company bio

Shimano is the international market leader in the field of moving components for bicycles. In Europe, there are over 1,200 Shimano Service Centres, spread across 28 countries. Almost all of these are run by independent entrepreneurs.

How do you make sure that everyone is on the same page? How do you keep the lines of communication short? And how do you deal with language barriers? We asked Mickael Timmermans, Retail Concept Manager at Shimano. With his team, he takes care of the professionalism and the right look-and-feel at the European Shimano Service Centers.

This is how Shimano ensures short communication lines to 28 countries

 

Hi Mickael, Shimano does not have its own shops, but works with independent entrepreneurs. How does that work exactly?

“The Shimano Service Centres are located in the centre of the country, and they are the only places where consumers can buy Shimano parts for their bikes or have them serviced. The owners of these Service Centers are indeed independent entrepreneurs, not franchisees of Shimano. Of course, as a brand we want to create a homogeneous and recognizable look-and-feel at all Service Centers. We also support the retailers in this. We do this by developing retail concepts and conducting audits. We also provide training to the employees of the Service Centres. In this way, we ensure that maintenance is carried out at the highest level everywhere. As a consumer, you know exactly what you can expect when you walk into a recognised Shimano Service Centre.”

 

Does Shimano do a lot of innovation?

“In addition to innovation in our products and materials, we are constantly looking at how we can improve our service. We research what works best in the market and look together with the retailers at how we can improve our service. We provide them with all kinds of tools and knowledge, but we also learn from them. For example, there is a retailer in France who immediately seals the saddle and handlebars with plastic when a bicycle is brought in for maintenance. In this way, he ensures that the dirty working hands of the bicycle mechanics do not stain the bike during maintenance. Such a simple solution, but so well thought out! It’s details like these that raise your service to a higher level.”

 

 

 

"A good relationship is very important to us. More closeness leads to more commitment and cooperation. And ultimately more shop turnover."

With so many branches in so many countries, it seems to me that it is quite a challenge to keep everyone on the same page.

“That can sometimes be a challenge, yes. From the head office, we work on the vision, strategy and policy of the brand. But each country also has its own country office, which in turn has contact with the local retailers. Maintaining a good relationship with retailers is extremely important to us. We are convinced that if the retailers are happy with us, they will also be more likely to convey this enthusiasm about the Shimano brand to the consumer. More solidarity ensures more commitment and more cooperation. So we work on that all the time. Ultimately, you see the positive effect of this also reflected in shop sales and in the brand preference for Shimano by consumers.”
“A good relationship is extremely important to us. More closeness leads to more commitment and cooperation. And ultimately more shop sales.”

How do you maintain contact with retailers? How do you pulse whether they are still satisfied?

“In principle, the country offices maintain contact with the retailers. Nevertheless, we also want to keep the lines of communication with them short from our head office. For example, we sometimes conduct large-scale surveys. The disadvantage, however, is that it takes a lot of time to process and analyse the data. Moreover, not everyone is keen on an extensive survey. But sometimes you just want to ask a short question. To find out how things are going in the shops and whether retailers are satisfied. Or a quick survey on how you like that new bicycle parts display. Askemo turns out to be the perfect tool for this.”

"I ask a question in the entrepreneurs' own language and the answer is automatically translated into English. That way I can scan all the answers at a glance."

How do you use askemo?

“At the moment, we use it mainly to quickly ask retailers for feedback. At first, this seemed quite a challenge, especially because of the language barrier. But that turned out to be easy to solve. I now use askemo to ask a question in my own language, for example Swedish or Portuguese, and the retailer’s response in his/her own language is automatically translated into English. All the responses are bundled in my dashboard and I can scan all the answers at a glance. This is ideal! And if I come across a response that needs action, I immediately consult with the country manager as to who will contact the retailer in question.”

 

 

Why does askemo work for Shimano?

“The tool is very easy to use. Setting up and sending out an askemo is incredibly quick. We get a quick response and don’t have to go through e-mails and Excel lists anymore. The retailers are given the opportunity to think along in a simple manner, which greatly promotes commitment and cooperation. Askemo provides us with good support; we have already made a few suggestions for new features and they can usually be implemented. Moreover, my colleagues and I are seeing more and more opportunities to use the tool. For example, we will soon be using askemo to ask consumers about their experience with the Shimano Service Centre they have visited. And there are even more ideas bubbling up. Fortunately, new ideas can be tried out quickly. I look forward to seeing what else we can achieve with askemo.”