Relations between BMW and its franchise board are at an “all time high”, according to Tim Abbott, UK managing director. It is “very much ‘we’ rather than ‘us’ and ‘them’. It’s a collaboration,” he added.
“We’ve been very open. And we don’t look at any programmes without talking to them. I think they’ve got faith in us and we’ve got faith in them.”
Abbott said as the recession hit in late 2008, BMW did a lot of work around bonus guarantees on volume and target bonuses so that dealers could concentrate on customers.
Abbott credited the dealers with cutting costs and re-engineering business models to fit the changing market.
After employee cuts in 2008, dealerships are starting to re-employ sales staff and will continue to do so into next year.
He said profitability was better than last year, but declined to state figures. Dealers’ qualms include the obvious struggle of selling premium price cars in a tough marketplace.
Financial services have also been slow in reacting to a changing market. “Recovery is slow. It’s just beginning to get pace, but it’s one step at a time and dealers want to be sprinting.”
Abbott expects a strong year-end helped by the prospect of rising VAT.
Its PCP offering Select was “severely wounded”, but dealers can now re-enter the market with customers comfortable paying for a car per month.
“We’ve learnt through this recession how to be smart in the way we put money towards customers.
“Being more intelligent with money by offering enhancement of specification is the way forward,” he said.
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