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Nissan terminates retail dealerships

Nissan GB has issued termination notices to its 12 retail dealerships as it moves towards a single tier network of main outlets.

The company expects 11 of the 12 to re-sign as main dealers, taking the network to around 225, with the 12th outlet becoming an authorized repairer.

“We want to move towards a single tier structure because we want direct relationships with all our partners. It’s important for our success,” says Simon Thomas, Nissan GB sales director.

The revised structure will also facilitate the launch next year of a data sharing service, which will merge dealers’ customer information with Nissan’s database to fill information gaps.

“Dealers’ records are often incomplete or inaccurate, while we have a comprehensive record of car buyers,” says Thomas. “By merging the two we can scrub out the gaps and feed back accurate information to both databases. It’s the way forward to improve customer relationship management.”

Nissan is placing increasing emphasis on CRM and service standards, introducing a less complex set of franchise standards to concentrate dealers’ minds. Rewards based on customer service have also been rationalized. Dealers can now earn up to 4% margins on the car for high levels of CSI, which is “significantly higher” than in previous years, according to Thomas.

“This drives the viability of the business by putting the customer at the forefront and bonusing dealers according,” he says. “Running a franchise is difficult and our objective is to make it easier and less complex.”

The focus on customer service has been intensified by the launch of new products which move Nissan’s pricing point upstream. The marque, historically operating in the £7,000-10,000 market on the back of its domination by Micra, is now selling cars priced £20,000 and above thanks to the 350Z and Murano. “These pricier cars are an important profit driver for the network,” adds Thomas.

It’s also prompted the company to launch a new finance coaching team under its Nissan GB Finance operation. Field staff are visiting dealers to train them on business finance, including funding options and marketing to companies, as Nissan looks to boost fleet penetration.

The free service, embraced by dealers who recognize the appeal of the latest models to the business sector, will help raise Nissan market share in the business sector from 2% to 3.5% over the next few years.

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