Saab UK is offering employee discounts to retail customers from now until the end of the year to increase sales over the winter period.
Discounts of 7%-10% are available across Saab’s 2008 model year range until December 31, or until the specific stock has run out.
Jonathan Nash, Saab UK managing director, said: “It is in reaction to September, but it’s not just that month. We could see even from August that things were looking down, so it’s an effort to increase sales activity.”
Saab year-to-date sales are down almost 30% at 13,538.
“We want to increase sales and enquiries in new and used car sales, but also steal a march on our competitors,” Nash added.
The idea is Saab UK derived and it was chosen because of the simplicity of its message.
“Everyone understands that an employee discount is the best deal you can get and it’s something that we haven’t tried before,” Nash said.
“During the first discussions for the idea we were worried it could be considered too drastic, but we decided that as long as it met our objectives, it was the right time to be bold.”
Saab UK has not increased its media budget to cater for the new campaign.
Nash said: “We’re using what was already forecast for Q4. We’re advertising in the national papers, but we’re asking our local dealers to invest in local media to promote the scheme too.”
Dealers’ investment in promotion will then be matched “pound for pound” when advertising the discount scheme in local newspapers.
Nash said: “We’ve been really lucky with the reaction, with 100% of our network taking on the scheme.”
Ordinarily a campaign of this magnitude would take up to 12 weeks to be approved but, because of the market, Saab UK has gone ahead with it in half the time.
Dealers have welcomed the move, according to Gary Clay, franchise board co-chair and MD of Concept Saab in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.
He said previous schemes had been too complicated, targeting specific groups such as sportspeople or clergymen.
“It’s a little bit drastic, but I’m glad they’ve done it,” Clay added.
Nash said: “We’re not expecting our dealer network to ride out this economic downturn without some support from us and this scheme is one of the ways we can help them.
“Saab customers still have the money to buy cars, they just need that push of confidence to make a decision.”
The initiative is currently Saab only. However, if it is successful, other GM UK brands like Vauxhall and Chevrolet might consider adopting it.