Mazda UK’s sales director Peter Allibon has said the future role of the Mazda dealer, which includes potential multi-franchising and agency sales, is a topic for discussion with his dealers.
Speaking to Car Dealer Live, Allibon explained about how the Mazda Motors UK dealer network has fared over the past 12 months, the need for a blended approach to online car sales and admitted that the Japanese firm needs to ‘take counsel’ from its network to understand what the next 10 years will look like.
He said Mazda Motors UK isn’t ‘closed to the idea’ of dealerships adopting a multi-franchised approach, and while the firm has declined requests to have more than one franchise under one roof in the past, Allibon admitted Mazda UK has to make the dealer network ‘viable’ moving forwards.
In the video – which you can watch at the top of this story – Allibon said Mazda UK will ‘tale counsel’ on the future look and feel of the future Mazda dealer.
‘We are going through a programme of ‘The dealer of tomorrow for Mazda’ where we’ll take counsel from many of our dealer network partners, collectively, to understand what the next 10 years might look like for the dealer,’ he said.
‘Aftersales, new car sales, used cars and franchising agency agreements will all be thrown in to understand what we actively see as the right approach.
‘Whether that includes multiple brand showrooms remains to be seen. For us, that would have to change some of my other strategic directions on trying to be more of a customer service driven brand rather than a sales volume and target driven brand.’
Allibon admitted ‘the current franchise agreement arrangement is not going to be the same in 10 years’ time’, and said if that means adopting an agency sales approach ‘then so be it’.
However, going down the agency sales route wouldn’t be a decision for the short term and would have to be a pan-European decision involving Mazda Europe.
Online car sales
Allibon said Mazda UK had lost no dealers through ‘financial concerns’ during the Covid-19 pandemic but admitted that business planning had been ‘a struggle’.
Unlike many of its rivals, Mazda UK doesn’t have a full end-to-end online sales facility allowing customers to buy a car completely online.
Despite that, Mazda dealers still sold between 60 and 70 per cent of normal volume during lockdown three where showrooms where shut until April 12.
When Car Dealer last spoke to Allibon 12 months ago, he said Mazda UK was applying pressure on Mazda Europe to launch a fully-online sales facility.
However, due to a requirement for an online sales facility to launched on a pan-European basis and there being no such launch to date, UK buyers will have to wait longer to transact fully online.
‘We won’t be measuring our success or the success of an online solution by how many people go end-to-end,’ he said.
‘It’ll be how many people are in the middle part of the funnel that maybe can go further on an online experience, and jump on and jump off of the online offline experience as they choose.
‘I certainly see the future of physical environments for customers; I also see that there’s going to be some customers that are just going to not need that as part of their sales journey. And we just need to adapt and be there to cater for all of those different needs.’
No semiconductor disruption
While some car manufacturers are warning of significant disruption due to the ongoing semiconductor crisis, Allibon said he might feel ‘a bit of a pinch on a couple of car lines’, on the whole he has no production issues for August and the plate-change month of September.
‘When I look and talk to dealers about some of the issues that other manufacturers have got right now, some of them are pretty severe,’ he said.
‘I’m so keen for the network to have a successful and maximise September as much as possible.
‘I’m also grateful that the impact that we’ve had is negligible when compared to some other manufacturers suffering. It’s a real challenge and I guess we’re feeling the positive side of that because we do have available stock right now, and I know we’re in an environment where other manufacturers maybe are feeling the pinch.
‘I think we’re probably seeing some successes as a result of that.’
Click the video at the top of this story to watch the full interview