Mazda is looking in particular to businesses running a small number of vehicles in each dealership’s locality. The Japanese carmaker said that personal service, the introduction of innovative business concepts and the ability to ensure service, maintenance and repair work would all be crucial in its sales success.
Last year fleet sales were up almost 50% on 2003 levels and in 2005 Mazda expects fleet sales to total about 18,000 units – around a third of total sales – and approximately 2,000 registrations up on last year’s corporate business.
Mazda has a network of 12 fleet specialist dealers but fleet and remarketing director Adam Pumfrey 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." Robinsons Mazda in Leicester is the highest volume Mazda fleet retailer in the UK and last year sold 1,400 cars into the corporate sector led by the Mazda6, MX-5 and RX-8.
Fleet sales are presently split around two-thirds/one-third in favour of national business, but Mazda expects 2005 to see a focus on increasing corporate business with companies in Leicester and the surrounding area.
Innovation and offering the ultimate customer experience is the key to corporate business sector success says Mark Mitchell, group managing director of the Chester-based Mitchell Group.
Appointed a Mazda fleet specialist in September 2004 following the opening of a £2.5 million dealership complex, the Chester area had been without a Mazda specialist for some time.
Mitchell says: "Chester has become a very strong regional business centre with many household names within a five-mile drive of the dealership. I believe there is massive pent-up demand for Mazda product and we have had great interest in Mazda3, Mazda6, RX-8, particularly for personal contract purchase, and the B-Series pick-up."
Lindsay Cars is the largest dealer group in Northern Ireland with eight dealerships, including Mazda franchises in Mallusk and Lisburn, which is also home to the group’s Business Centre, which serves all outlets. Lindsay Cars took on the Mazda franchise in January 2004 and was appointed a fleet specialist less than 12 months ago.
Terry Halliday, head of the business centre, says: "Last year we secured about 50 corporate sales to user-chooser clients within small and medium-sized fleet operations. This year I expect that number to rise to about 120 fleet sales."
Fleet sales in the province are focused around the Mazda6 and Halliday says: "Fleet business may not always be the most profitable at the outset, but it is important to look long-term. Aftersales business is very significant because company car drivers always return for regular vehicle servicing and repairs.
"We were appointed a fleet specialist dealer to give Mazda corporate coverage in Northern Ireland, but also because the business centre was already in operation with systems and a structure in place."