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Seat puts focus on fleets

Seat retailers in city centres are being invited to become fleet-specialist centres as the manufacturer looks to double its corporate sales ratio.

A new fleet team is working with retailers to develop capability in a move intended to move fleet sales from around 16% of Seat’s UK volume (its own figures) to around 30%. Dealers will need to employ a fleet manager and invest in demonstrators, servicing capacity and courtesy cars.

But while these retailers will be the main focus for fleet business, other dealers in the network also have a responsibility to grow sales with local companies.

Peter Wyhinny, Seat UK director, says: “We are doing lots of marketing with big fleets – many of them have not considered Seat before. But we will not supply direct; the network will benefit because they have to offer the service.”

Wyhinny is looking to grow the retail network from 115 to 130-135 outlets over the next two years. Open points include key conurbations such as Bristol, Manchester and East London – high cost areas in which Seat will ensure representation by buying sites and leasing them back to dealers.

He believes dealers will be attracted to the network because of improving profits – the return on sales aim is 2% minimum – and opportunities provided by a rapidly growing car parc. With sales year-to-date up 14% (it expects to end the year on 32,500 against 28,000 in 2005), Seat’s 10-year car parc has grown to 250,000 cars, skewed towards one-to-five year olds.

That opens up more servicing opportunities and Seat is launching a number of new initiatives to help dealers raise their absorption levels. It is promoting a web-based menu, which allows dealers to pick and choose initiatives, through a series of roadshows this week.

“Dealers also need to improve customer retention levels. Our starting point is around 41% for new cars – I want to be 20 points higher,” adds Wyhinny.

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