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Streamlining plan to help Suzuki through slump

Suzuki GB has introduced a number of programmes to help its network survive the current economic slump, including cutting back on demonstrators and bringing in consultants to streamline businesses.

With around 85% of all Suzuki sales to retail customers, it is more exposed than most to the downturn. 

Stories of some dealers advertising new cars on a
0% APR 50/50 scheme, where buyers pay half now, then
the other half in 18 months suggests its 147-strong network is struggling, especially as many are small owner-driver operations.

Suzuki GB hopes to end 2008 with around 26,000 units sold, down 6,000 on last year. 

But it is positive for next year, especially with the launch of the sub-£7,000 Alto in March, which will give it four low-emission models in the A and B segments.

Dale Wyatt, general manager, dealer development, was upbeat about the network’s chances next year, and has introduced a number of programmes to help.

He said: ‘Our dealers are suffering in the current market the same as others, but we believe there are a number of positives out there. 

“We’re still expanding the network, with three new dealers in the last month.

“At our dealer conference recently we announced a raft of measures, such as fewer demos next year and a more sensible approach to targeting where levels are agreed quarterly rather than second guessing the next 12 months at the start of the year.

“We’ve also introduced new budgeting software at cost price to help manage cashflow and made available a consultancy that can help take cost out of a business in areas such as utilities bills and back office operations.

There is aftersales improvement, a used car programme and a showroom and enquiry management system.

“We’re also seeing an increase of around 10% in finance business, thanks to working with Black Horse.’

Deals such as the 50/50 offer do not originate with Suzuki GB, and Wyatt said he was actively encouraging network innovation.

He said: “We are much less controlling than many other brands. Because many of our dealers are owner drivers and know their own local markets well, we celebrate their entrepreneurship and don’t constrain them.”

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