But progress is being made after only 12 months.
Heiron says: “At first there was natural scepticism in the network that this would be flavour of the month for a while, but our dealers now recognise it will not go away. We are determined to take everyone with us.
“We know we still have work to do and a number of people are off the pace. That applies especially to the largest retail groups, including PLCs – customers regard them as a bit less personal, to put it politely. They are the groups most likely to blame high staff turnover for their problems.”
Two years ago Carlos Ghosn, Renault president and CEO, announced the Renault Commitment 2009 programme to transform the group. Key components include retailers’ E4 (excellence – everyone, everywhere, every time), tied in with a 6% operating profit by the year after next.
Ghosn says quality of service will be the main element of competition in the future.
The pressure is on because in October Renault UK starts selling the new Laguna, which Ghosn has pledged will have a sector top-three place in terms of product and service quality.
The manufacturer does not say how many Lagunas it expects to sell in the UK in the first 12 months, but Heiron says: “The 1990s’ glory days of 40,000 UK Laguna sales a year have gone.”
An outside agency is conducting a phone survey of up to 5,000 Renault customers a month on everything from making a booking to leaving a dealership. On sales, the network is close (82.7%) to the 2009 objective of 84.5% of customers saying they were ‘completely satisfied’. Dealers are achieving 71.7% on aftersales – its 2009 target is 76%.
Renault is using Audi and Toyota as benchmarks on customer care and links dealers’ CSI bonuses to the findings. Members of its field teams visit all dealers, and apply increasing pressure on poor performers, including mystery shopping.
Below-average dealers know contract termination is the ultimate penalty (it has not happened yet). Dealer management customer-facing staff have received E4 training.
Heiron says preparation of new cars needs to be improved by dealers because at present the proportion of owners returning to the dealership is “above” the 7% objective. “Some are because customers do not know how to operate something in the car,” he added.