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Corporate focus grows for dealer groups

Dealers at Mazda have been tailoring their services towards fleets as the importance of corporate customers grows, but there is still plenty of work to be done, according to Pumfrey.

He says: "About half of our dealers have yet to secure any corporate business. However, they are sitting on a potentially lucrative business opportunity as companies that run fleets – both large and small – surround them.

"It is my aim to help them tap into that huge marketplace this year. By defining the fleet opportunity to them, and by them discovering how some of our other franchises have secured both local small business opportunities and larger fleet success, we can grow the Mazda brand together."

One of the dealers Mazda will no doubt be using to highlight the strengths of fleet business is Robinsons Mazda in Leicester, the highest-volume Mazda fleet retailer in the UK. Last year, it sold 1,400 cars into the corporate sector, led by the Mazda6, MX-5 and RX-8.

The family-run business launched its fleet operation four years ago and to service its move into the segment the company also opened its own PDI centre at nearby Bruntingthorpe. In addition, the company acquired a fleet of transporters and employed drivers to handle national corporate business.

Two-thirds of fleet sales at Robinsons are to customers all over the country, but 2005 is seeing a major focus on increasing corporate business with companies in Leicester and the surrounding area.

Dealer development manager Sam Robinson, who launched the fleet operation, says: "Being successful in fleet is all about customer relationship management – that is what we believe in, it is one of our strengths.

"As a family business and with only the one franchise, we are totally focused on Mazda. Our response times to customers are very quick and that is why we are successful."

The firm has stressed the importance of customer relations in all its dealings and believes this has helped drive forward fleet volumes.

Robinson added: "Our national fleet business has evolved over the last four years and much of our success has been down to client recommendation."

But it is not just in the Midlands that Mazda is encouraging its dealer network to innovate and push for fleet business.

Mitchell Group, in Chester, opened a new £2.5 million dealership complex last year and has built a £40,000 customer lounge, including internet café, plasma TV screens and all-day hot and cold refreshments.

There is also an eight-seat boardroom available free of charge, while the dealership’s investment in servicing includes a 20-bay workshop and a target of turning around vehicles in one hour. Mark Mitchell, group managing director at Mitchell Mazda says: "Everything we offer is critical to maintaining strong and long-lasting relationships with fleet customers."

Border Cars, in Dumfries, now opens on Saturdays and Sundays for servicing, while all dealers say they believe service is essential to retain fleet business.

Mike Fusco, dealer principal of Border Cars Mazda, says: "Business people are very busy and although we run a shuttle service to and from their place of work, and will supply a loan car, sometimes that is inconvenient.

"Opening our workshops on Saturdays and Sundays means SMR work can be undertaken at a time to suit our customers. It is all part of the service."

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