Peter Johnson, LDV UK, on why a coffee can beat social media for getting new brand information to customers
What are the main responsibilities of your role?
Johnson: To provide support to our existing, growing dealer network, including ensuring they are up to speed with vehicle specifications, legislation, our marketing campaigns and what’s next for the LDV brand in terms of innovation and new vehicle launches.
It also involves being available for all of the varied, interesting, sometimes challenging and often unexpected questions that come to you. I am involved with and really focused on the recruitment of new dealers. We have strong geographical representation, but are continually expanding our dealer network and are particularly keen to get representation in the Bristol area and further down into the south-west.
What are the most significant challenges ahead?
Johnson: The more significant of these include re-establishing the LDV brand into a crowded marketplace that offers significant choice. It is an ambitious mission, but we have a great team, a dynamic dealer network and a product that combines quality and value, which is what every commercial driver is looking for.
Everyone in the industry is looking at new fuels and greener motoring – we have to keep pace with the low- or zero-emission movement, which is evolving at speed and is a relatively new area for everyone in the motor sector.
Understanding how and where fleet buyers and drivers get their information is a really interesting challenge. The world has changed considerably in the past few years and while most of our customers are digital natives, there’s still a really large cohort that is more traditional and will never engage with social or digital platforms. We have to ensure we understand our customer and that we are engaging with them when and where they are most receptive.
How may these challenges be overcome?
Johnson: We need to continue introducing our brand, and indeed ourselves, to customers and potential buyers. In addition, it is crucial that we provide timely and relevant information and treat the customer fairly. These are old-school values, but are proven to work. Social media enables us to get messages out quicker than in the past and this is helping us to overcome a lot of challenges in terms of brand awareness and specific messages in relation to, for example, scrappage deals, finance deals and the LDV range. But, as I mentioned, not everyone is on social media and you cannot underestimate the importance or effectiveness of picking up the phone or meeting up for a coffee.
We are in a really fortunate position in that the combined resources of SAIC – our manufacturer in China – and The Harris Group, the distributor of LDV, mean we can deliver real quality products such as the EV80 full electric vans and chassis, the first viable 3.5-tonne GVW vehicles in the UK market.
What attracted you to this area of expertise?
Johnson: I think it must be in my blood. I have sold new and used cars. I have sold new and used commercials. I ran a rental fleet, worked in finance and insurance, led sales teams, supervised administration and I have been involved in aftersales.
This new position of dealer development manager at LDV utilises all those skills, but fortunately, not all at the same time or that would be yet another challenge I’d have to overcome.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career, and how have you made use of it at your company?
Johnson: Do what you say you will and do it before the deadline. That’s the abiding rule and I have always stuck to it, at every company with which I’ve worked.
What drives you?
Variety - no two days are ever the same.
What’s your favourite app?
WhatsApp, as my children are overseas.
How do you relax?
Travelling and staying in contact with old friends.