Other manufacturers that fared well included Mercedes-Benz with a six-point rise in dealer satisfaction putting it into the top 20 in 16th place, and Saab arriving from just outside the top 20 last year to jump into the top 10, courtesy of a near 10-point increase in its rating. Most startling of all, though, is Proton, which enjoyed a 10-point boost and leap-frogged into 15th place.
For the 34 franchises in this year’s survey, 15 either improved on 2005 or returned the same overall satisfaction rating. However, the dealers for 19 vehicle manufacturers scored their relationship with their manufacturer less satisfying than in 2005. Alfa Romeo and Kia propped up the bottom of the table in joint last place by virtue of a deteriorating performance. This pushed Citroën off the bottom, even though it posted identical ratings in 2005 and 2006.
The Sewells Dealer Attitude Survey 2006 report builds on 15 years of data. More than 800 dealers took part this year, answering 135 questions, which probed the complexities of the dealer-manufacturer relationship.
In recent years, dealers have expressed increasing satisfaction with their manufacturers, the average satisfaction rating recording a respectable improvement until 2003.
#AM_ART_SPLIT# However, since then there has been a definite slowdown. So although the 2006 survey records an all-time high satisfaction rating of 65.8, the improvement over last year is by the slimmest of margins. It seems that there are clear signs of a cooling in sentiments.
The area of greatest importance to dealers this year was the relationship with manufacturers on sales and marketing matters.
However, communications dominated dealers’ top 10 priorities with survey respondents registering approval for franchises that are effective communicators, with executives who are easy to talk to and take account of dealers’ views. And, notably, dealer expectations of franchise support were higher this year.
Also of importance to dealers was the fairness of new vehicle sales targets. However, across the questions about sales targets, two-thirds of franchises have seen falls in satisfaction since 2004.
With new car sales falling, dealers are under pressure and this could explain why they are less happy with sales targets, and further explain why they are looking for all types of support from their vehicle manufacturers.
#AM_ART_SPLIT# NFDA highlights the desire for control>
Dealers still believe their vehicle manufacturer partners are holding too much control over their businesses, according to the latest dealer attitude survey by the National Franchised Dealers Association.
Many networks fear this control will increase in the next 12 months, and complain the standards required by their franchise are unfair, while reporting that their retained margins continue to decrease.
However, almost half state the relationship between themselves and the senior management of their manufacturer partners has improved slightly.
Asked to evaluate their franchise’s incentive programmes, 14 networks improved their rating and 13 dropped in score. Renault suffered the largest decrease in satisfaction, followed by Alfa Romeo, while Proton improved the most, ahead of Chevrolet and Seat.
When asked to rate their franchise’s current profit potential, more than half the networks were dissatisfied. Subaru, Peugeot and Volvo received the worst ratings, while Proton and Land Rover fared best. Subaru also came bottom for future profit potential, followed by Alfa Romeo and Saab. Again, Proton and Land Rover led.
In general dealers feel the marketing support and advertising provided by their manufacturer partners is improving. And they are still largely happy with parts distribution, warranty policy and vehicle distribution arrangements.
Unlike the Sewells survey, Lexus lost its top spot, replaced by Mini. It’s now fourth.
NFDA dealer attitude survey summer 2006 – top 10
2 Land Rover