“Dealer success is the key to our success,” says Christian Meunier of Nissan.
Dealer-automaker relationships can get strained at times, but companies such as Nissan, which has not scored particularly high on recent dealer-satisfaction scores, are trying to make things better – and to some extent make amends.
“We wanted to hear from dealers in each region what they think we can do better,” says Christian Meunier, Nissan North America’s senior vice president-sales, marketing and operations. “So we are continuing to work with our dealers in a way that makes sense for them.”
Dealers are key players in Nissan’s goal to raise profit margins and market share, he says. “We have partnered with our dealers to improve every aspect of how we do business.”
Nissan North America has 1,077 dealerships. Since 2012, Nissan sales per outlet have increased nearly 34%. “Dealer success is the key to our success,” Meunier says.
Nissan has scored below the industry average in the National Automobile Dealers Assn.’s dealer-attitude surveys. The automaker has sought to address that shortcoming.
Strong dealer relationships have helped Toyota in sales and customer retention, says Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.
Last decade, Toyota dealers were scoring relatively low on customer satisfaction scores. Toyota responded by launching a program to make dealerships more customer friendly. It seems to have worked, as Fay speaks of increased customer retention, more service-department business and “all-time dealer profit levels.”
Toyota has 1,238 dealers in the U.S. and 235 Lexus dealers.
At Toyota’s dealer meeting in September, the automaker introduced an updated marketing agreement that took effect this year. It includes guidelines on minimum-allowable advertised pricing and clarification on digital advertising.
“Technology is enabling new ways of doing business and clearly empowering consumers. An important step in meeting the needs of the customer is the updates Toyota is making to its covenant,” Fay says.
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