B-Quik – Tyre retail service Thai style
Here’s a question for you – which tyre retailer has 42 outlets in the capital and in November opened the 43rd on a Tesco hypermarket, making this the 10th centre on a Tesco forecourt?
The answer is B-Quik, of Thailand and the capital city is, of course, Bangkok. For many people in Europe, the first they heard of the name was during the period when the Ford Motor Company was going through its “showroom to scrapyard” phase and it bought Kwik-Fit in Europe and B-Quik in Thailand.
Ford changed its strategy and Kwik-Fit was sold off, while, in November 2003, B-Quik executives completed a management buy-out. At that time, B-Quik was seven years old, having begun life as a brake repair business in Bangkok, but expansion was rapid and it is now the largest independent retailer of automotive services in Thailand, providing parts and services related to tyres, oils and oil filters, batteries, brakes, shock absorbers and suspension repairs.
Similarities and differences
Looking at B-Quik, it is tempting to regard the company as a Thai version of Kwik-fit, especially when you read statements like “it is the company’s aim to achieve 100 per cent customer satisfaction” and indeed it would have been astonishing if there had been no cross-over of ideas during the period when Ford owned both companies. Suffice it to say that there are striking similarities between the two, but there are marked differences also.
There are more than two million motor vehicles in the greater Bangkok area and the number is growing all the time. B-Quik works on a “high volume, low prices” strategy and, last year, serviced some 18,000 customers a month, selling 200,000 tyres a year. In terms of numbers, this is nothing like the volumes achieved by Kwik-Fit, but then again, Kwik-fit had close to 2,000 retail outlets, compared to 43.
Around half of B-Quik’s turnover comes from tyre sales and it claims a 12 per cent share of the tyre market in Bangkok. It also has its own tyre brand – Accis – which was developed with Thai motorists in mind and is produced “by the leading European tyre manufacturer.” B-Quik operates to a strict code of practice and gives a written guarantee on all parts and services provided. It advertises extensively in a number of media and its website has details of special promotions.
Staff development is seen as a priority and training is central to the provision of good customer service B-Quik has two training centres and, at any given time, 24 members of take part in a training programme. This training is on-going, not just for new employees, and all centre managers will have attended no fewer than 12 training courses.
So far, not that different from Kwik-Fit, but now we come to the major differences, the most noticeable of which for a UK tyre technician would be the working hours – B-Quik centres are open every day, and from 8:00am to 9:00pm.
Another difference is the provision of a monthly training course, entitled the DIY Car Maintenance Project, during which customers are taught the basics of safe motoring, car maintenance such as checking tyre pressures and oil levels and safe driving. These courses are run by Patanadej Arsasapakij, who is a television personality and, according to B-Quik, “the best-known person in the Thai auto industry.” Around 20-30 motorists participate each month and – and here is the main difference from similar, UK-based schemes – they each pay 100 Baht (2.04 euros) to attend. While that may not sound an awful lot, it should be looked at in context – a quick search on the Internet revealed that the minimum daily wage in the Bangkok area is 181 Baht. How many UK motorists would pay over half a day’s wages to attend a maintenance course at a local fast-fit?
At the beginning of 2003, B-Quik had 28 outlets, so it has increased in size by over 50 per cent in under 36 months. And it appears that the expansion process is far from finished – in 2004, B-Quik turned over around 800 million Baht (16.32 million euro) and the company is contemplating moving into other areas of Asia such as China and Malaysia.