[From Decemberber Issue 2014]
Autobacs Seven Co., Ltd.
A s well as carrying out mandatory vehicle inspections and maintenance, Autobacs Seven Co., Ltd. sell, install and change car parts. The company was originally a wholesale dealer in car parts. However, in order to get new business ideas, founder SUMINO Toshio visited the US to take a look at the distribution business there. During that visit he was bowled over when he saw one-stop shops that not only sold all kinds of car parts, but installed them and carried out repairs in the same location.
In those days tires, oil and batteries were sold separately in specialized shops in Japan. Customers therefore had to visit several shops to buy the parts and products they wanted. Convinced that the customer-friendly one-stop business style would be welcomed in Japan, Sumino opened his first Autobacs shop in November 1974 in Daito City, Osaka Prefecture.
Sumino came up with a striking company name to call attention to this revolutionary new business style. The first two letters in Autobacs represent the company’s philosophy, while the remaining six represent the range of products on offer. A stands for appeal, U for unique, T for tires, O for oil, B for batteries, A for accessories, C for car electronics, and S for service.
The company name is Autobacs Seven, but the name of the store is Autobacs. “Seven” signifies the continuing search for a seventh product line. The orange corporate color stands out even at a distance and represents a pioneering spirit and Californian orange. It’s also influenced by the image of the American sunshine seared into Sumino’s eyes.
The company’s three bestselling products are “studless tires,” “tire chains,” and “car cleaning supplies.” Studless tires are a must for safe driving in regions such as Hokkaido, Tohoku and Hokuriku where there is a great quantity of snow. There is more demand for chains for emergency use when there is heavy snow in and around large cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Car cleaning supplies sell more in early spring when the air is filled with cedar pollen and yellow dust from mainland China.
ONODA Kenichi of the PR department stresses, “We are second to none in that we have one of the largest shop networks in Japan, a high brand recognition, a comprehensive product lineup, excellent service, and a team of professionals.” Each shop strives to be customer-friendly by displaying products according to their use and by using integrated signage.
Autobacs attaches importance not only to its products and services, but also to customer service. In order to avoid any unpleasantness, customers are treated well and provided with satisfactory products. Staff are trained on the importance of personal grooming, smiling, eye contact, greetings, polite phrasing, and bowing. “We work hard to maintain and improve our Autobacs brand,” says Onoda.
Text: ITO Koichi