In a move set to revolutionise automotive marketing in Britain, the brand is planning to introduce a listing system aimed at reflecting the views of private car buyers, AM can reveal.
Rating the level of satisfaction between one and five, the results will apply to every sales outlet – and they will have a direct impact on the amounts retailers can earn under the terms of a new margin structure.
‘From now on, buyers can look at how a dealer treats his customers and the result can affect their purchase decisions. No-one else does this and we’re being genuine in opening up our network,’ said Volkswagen Group UK managing director Paul Willis.
‘I think this is fantastic and I don’t know why we’ve not done it before.
Intellectually and philosophically, you can’t argue with it…if you are seen to be one of the bottom retailers in the country, you have to do something tangible, something really different, in order to improve your business.’
Dealers have been given an outline of the revamped website – due to go live in January and claimed by Willis to be the best of its kind in the world – but full details will be given to the 232-strong network later this month.
Initial reaction from the network has been positive, but tinged with concern that the 1-5 scoring system is inflexible, and could mean some dealers lose bonus for reasons outside their control.
One dealer told AM: “We support what Paul Willis is doing. He’s bringing a culture change at VW, to put the customer first, dealers second and the manufacturer last. We’re all trying to improve, we’re more customer focused than ever and our customer service should improve.
“The biggest problem is that there’s always going to be someone at the bottom of the league, no matter how well they’re doing.
VW is heavily weighted on back-end bonus, and when this is part of the net margin it can take one or two percent off their bottom line.”