Marta Bartolomé, business analyst, and Jesús Alonso, owner, have been creating virtuous circles with Colectivos Vip since 2010 with their savings programs, in which more than 100 organizations and 200 merchants are already participating. There’s no doubt that the way they envisage professional relationships is helping them grow quickly.
Biography: Marta Bartolomé
Languages: Catalan, Spanish, English (advanced), German (advanced)
Biography: Jesús Alonso
Profession: Telecommunications Engineer
Languages: English, Spanish, Catalan, French (basic), German (basic).
Interview: We started working with Colectivos Vip in October 2013. Since then, we have been an important part of their internationalization process and we hope that this professional relationship will last a long time. Do you want to know more about what they do? Don’t miss this interview, and hear it from the horse’s mouth.
How would you explain Colectivos Vip to our readers?
Here at Colectivos Vip we develop, implement and manage savings programs through discounts for groups of employees, association members and clients.
Your slogan, “motivamos empleados, fidelizamos clientes” (motivating employees, loyalizing clients), is quite the declaration of principles. What is the methodology behind that premise and how do you put it into practice?
There isn’t one single methodology but a series of elements that in the right combination allow us to provide highly flexible service. Above all, we start off with a good product, which we have developed ourselves, with an excellent, multidisciplinary team and experts in marketing, attraction, operations and development. But, above all, we understand that each client is unique. Implementing a savings program for a company with 500 employees isn’t the same as an advantages program for the clients of a financial entity.
You stand out for and promote the importance of the employee – company – client trio, seen as a whole that can’t be successful unless all of its parts work properly, as well as the need to strengthen that combination. Do you conceive of work and sales relations as something based on satisfaction and trust, and perhaps not so much on purely economic factors (competitiveness based on the cost of the service/product)?
Mathematicians fail when we analyze how our products are perceived by our clients and employees. What would an employee think if we gave them a €1/month raise? However, how many things can we do to motivate the staff with that same euro?
We agree that price is extremely important to consumers nowadays, but there comes a point where the price stops being significant and other issues become much more important, like their link to the company, service, quality…
Could you explain a little more about the concept of a “virtuous circle”?
Colectivos Vip is structured around a program of exclusively negotiated and permanent discounts that a group makes available to its members (employees, members or clients).
The users of these groups benefit from exclusive discounts, generating an emotional link between the consumers and their groups, as well as bringing value added to that relationship (“my company looks out for me”).
And, furthermore, in 2013 we reached 120 groups in our network, making us a high-quality sales channel for our merchants, giving them access, all in one place, to hundreds of thousands of “premium” clients (employees at large companies, clients from top market segments, professionals that belong to professional associations, etc.) that otherwise would be impossible to manage.
You know the ins and outs of both physical and online shops. Do you, personally, have a preference? What medium best fits your project?
Since the beginning we have had a very clear picture that Colectivos Vip has to be a sort of “Corte Inglés” (department store) for discounts, so we have to adapt to the product and sales channel. Nowadays, hotels, for example, are mainly reserved online but vehicles are still bought in physical stores. And other items, like clothes or cosmetics, are strong in both online and offline channels.
Therefore, we don’t believe in a single channel but in the product – channel combination. Thus, we cover all possible redemption methods and our team actively seeks out agreements that our users, given their browsing profile, look for the most.
You’re part of ACCIÓ’s programa iniciació a l’exportació (Export program). How would you explain this initiative?
One of the aims this year was to scout for opportunities in other markets. This program has allowed us to identify business opportunities available to Colectivos Vip in other countries with a minimal impact on our team, as the program provides consultancy support at a very reasonable rate.
Each company is different, so ACCIÓ faces the significant challenge of setting up programs that are flexible enough to meet the needs of all the participants without becoming useless.
In our case, we’re highly satisfied both in terms of the work done by the local team alongside us and the support we’ve received from international offices. The latter, in our view, is key; almost essential, I’d say.
It seems that internationalization is quite important to you. Do you see it as an obligatory process in the growth of a project or is it an option? What has been your experience?
In our case, we’ve barely been around 4 years in Spain and have seen growth above 100% per year, so there’s still a lot to be done here.
However, internationalization gives us access to new markets, which are as big as the Spanish market, with little additional effort, thus multiplying the size of the project in the middle term.
What market is yielding the best results for you now? Where is the future in your sector?
The United States is the cradle of this type of initiatives and, in general, a very mature and highly developed market technologically. Within Europe, France has been a benchmark in employee protection and wellbeing.
Curiously, both countries have mid-sized companies that have been developed based on the same concept as Colectivos Vip but haven’t chosen to internationalize.
Have you ever used a translation agency, translator, interpreter, etc.?
Many times, and you don’t have to look beyond Spain to need them. Our linguistic diversity can be a hurdle in the beginning but really becomes an advantage when you look abroad because you’ve already done the work to adapt the system to other languages.
Can you tell us an anecdote relating to languages that has happened to you?
We have clients in the Basque Country and have had to provide a solution fully adapted to the Basque language, which, apart from being highly complex, uses suffixes to modify words, making it quite a challenge to fit some of the tags on the page.
We took advantage of our colleague Javi (from Bilbao) many times, pressing him into service as our “express translator”. :DD
Contact Marta and Jesús at:
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