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Dealers and manufacturers close, but doubts remain

The manufacturer-car dealer relationship is stable and largely positive, despite 2007’s variable trading climate, according to the latest Dealer Attitude Survey from the RMI National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA).

The NFDA Summer 2007 Dealer Attitude Survey shows that the relationship between dealers and manufacturers continues to be positive with 75% of networks are satisfied with manufacturer marketing material and advice.

The results also showed over half of dealers believe manufacturer requirements to be fair (66%) and 59% believe their views and opinions are taken into account.

However, 88% of dealers questioned believe that manufacturer control of their business will increase, 78% of networks believe that retained margins on new car sales have fallen since last year and 53% of dealers reported falling satisfaction with vehicle distribution.

Sue Robinson, director of the NFDA, said: “The survey shows the dealer manufacturer partnership is still strong, and even improving in a number of areas, despite 2007’s seemingly unpredictable new car market.

“However, perhaps this volatility is feeding a sense of growing uncertainty, leading some dealers to feel that a negative change is just around the corner.”

Robinson believes that dialogue is the key: “One of the most important positives highlighted by the survey is that dealers feel that manufacturers listen to them now. They need to keep listening, so that any doubts that dealers have can be allayed.”

The NFDA believes the results suggest the manufacturer-car dealer relationship may be benefiting from a little more balance.

She adds: “At a time when the new car market is at its most competitive, every sale counts and it will be those manufacturers that inspire the most confidence in their networks that will perform best in this uncertain climate.”

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