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Demonstrator programmes need “fundamental rethink”

Manufacturers are missing the opportunity to increase the effectiveness of demonstrator programmes. The claim was made by Network Automotive Management, motor consultancy and support services specialist.

NAM, which helps to manage demonstrator programmes for a number of manufacturers, says problems are often caused by separate manufacturer departments handling different aspects of demonstrator activity with a very limited amount of co-ordination.

Frank Lord, interim managing director at NAM, says: “In a manufacturer fleet demonstrator programme, you often have one department deciding which vehicles to make available, another one offering them to potential customers, another handling the actual vehicle logistics and another that follows up the test drive with the customer. We have come across cases where these departments never or very rarely effectively communicate.

“The result can sometimes be a demonstrator programme where unsuitable vehicles are being offered to disinterested customers in an inefficient manner with no-one analysing the results gathered from the test drives – and the bill for the whole thing is often enormous.

“Then, of course, there is the question of how this activity dovetails with dealer demonstrator test drives? Here, there is often more confusion. A fundamental rethink is needed.”

Lord says that an increased level of integration is the key with greater focus on what the demonstrator programme is trying to achieve – increased sales.

He questioned why dealer test drives and fleet demonstrator programmes are often handled separately. “Both are simply methods to get a customer to try a vehicle and perhaps the best solution would be for both to come from a central resource,” he says.

“Also, the fact that most manufacturers differentiate between dealer test drives and fleet demonstrator programmes means that one of the most important customer groups – user choosers – often find it difficult to arrange a 24 hour test drive for a vehicle that they are considering.”

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