Simply Clever Taken to the Next Level
We wanted to show that the brand is changing
In 2013, ŠKODA AUTO launched a huge project to completely transform its showroom image. A new visual concept for all the company’s car ranges was also linked to the modernisation of showroom design across the world. The scale of this project was new not only to ŠKODA AUTO but also within the automotive industry as a whole.
As a brand we have some defined values – for example, our slogan “Simply Clever” points to the fact that our brand exhibits a certain engineering prowess, that it is caring and offers comfort, human contact, technology etc. These are all qualities and values that we have attempted to depict in some way in the showrooms.
Redesign project of unprecedented scale
ŠKODA AUTO is the largest Czech car manufacturer. It produces over one million cars a year, which are sold through over 1,000 showrooms in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and Australia. Hand in hand with a complete brand image overhaul, ŠKODA AUTO has also modernised its range of cars and embarked on the transformation of its showrooms across the globe. A project of this scale is unprecedented, even in the automotive industry. TECHO is proud to have been able to contribute to this project as one of the main showroom suppliers.
Small details make big things
The modernisation was not just a matter of new furniture and chairs – it also involved new external and internal signage, flooring and lighting. TECHO uses design elements that are extremely flexible and can be used to meet the individual requirements of a given showroom. The basic colours are an elegant white and a refreshing green, which are complemented by the warm Šumava wood decor of the new furniture – a décor produced exclusively for this project. The close relationship we built up with ŠKODA AUTO meant we were able to go that extra mile to precisely meet the design brief. We had an eye on the big picture, but also paid attention to the countless important details that together make a successful project. For this client it meant we even invested into dedicated production equipment so that the individual design modules could be produced in bulk.
Cooperation with TECHO has been running for a long time now, and I can honestly say it works very well.
For example, in relation to the furniture we resolved an important issue concerning the Šumava wood décor. For the original proposal we used a cold grey wood colour. However, the feedback we received during the development phase from dealers and customers was that the furniture seemed a bit cold and sterile. This prompted us to use a warmer décor.
Together with TECHO we spent a lot of time in close contact with dealers to determine how they liked the new concept. Without this I don’t think it would have been so successful.
ŠKODA AUTO, responsible for the showroom architectural concept
Prior to announcement of the tender, ŠKODA AUTO spent a year and a half developing the new showroom concept. Working with architects they created the template for the showroom appearance and set about specifying suitable materials. This phase culminated with the Modern Conference in Prague where they presented their vision to the sales team. For this they constructed a mock-up showroom, which demonstrated exactly how the new design would look and function. ŠKODA AUTO used this as a basis for the international tender.
40 firms from across the globe were approached. Of these 8 were shortlisted and subjected to an audit of technical capacity and verification of service quality to ensure they met the client’s strict criteria.
Shortlisted companies presented their solutions in partial showroom mock-ups. They were assessed for conformity to the brief and the quality of finish.
Then work began in earnest. In line with the brief the first pilot showrooms were produced and delivered. These were subject to even more precise scrutiny and the materials used were evaluated. The comments of the showroom owners were also taken into account in the evaluation process.
Production commences. The development phase switches to a continual improvement phase based on input from customers, project managers and production engineers. Over time a greater part of the outsourced items are switched to in-house production.
In total 585 showrooms were delivered to 40 countries. We continue working with ŠKODA AUTO to service the delivered showrooms.
Key success factors
Successfully delivering large projects requires experience, facilities and the courage to push back one’s own limits. We knew that if we wanted to succeed in a prestigious global project against major international competitors we would have to get the best out of ourselves.
Direct communication with the client right from the development phase means the parties know what to expect from each other and it prepares the ground for managing crisis situations, which are always part of any major project.
On a huge project like this there are waves of very high demand, and times when demand is lower. TECHO has proved itself able to deal with these variations as it had the capacity increase production space and produce for stock.
From the start we accepted that delivery dates might change and set up our logistics accordingly. Every change to the schedule had a knock on effect down the chain and we had to be able to respond effectively.
The story doesn't end when the installation team bids farewell
The successful delivery of a showroom is not the end of the process. After the handshakes and handover we move to the after sales phase. There are often small additional orders to be supplied, complaints to be handled and improvements to be implemented. TECHO has this process under control too thanks to its network of branches and representatives in local markets across the globe combined with those of Royal Ahrend. The quality of this service is key to maintaining a good relationship with this client in years to come.
Flexibility is the key
We learnt how to effectively adapt our processes to suit the needs of a major client. This flexibility on our part contributed to the success of the project as a whole.
Partnership is essential
We learnt how to be a good partner for a large company. The challenge in terms of deadlines and number of showrooms was extraordinary, but we proved ourselves equal to it!