AM: How will this growth affect dealers leading up to 2015?
DM: “Clearly to reach the volumes we’re aiming for the network needs to be selling more cars and it does mean investment in many cases. We’re very advanced in our planning with dealers and we’ve used a very structured approach with a growth planning model that allows them to look at the volumes they need to do and all our dealers have already put in their five- year numbers and committed to that.
“Our model then works out what sort of facility that dealership needs. The guys on the ground will probably already know in many cases, but we’re coming up with a number of outcomes for them in terms of how they need to prepare for growth.
“One might be that they’ve already got the right facility, the other might be that their needs to be some redevelopment or even a relocation.
“There’s a business management side of it as well where we look at what they need in order to sell twice as many cars for us and not just new cars, but twice as many used cars too to double the throughput in the workshops. We’re helping them to calculate what they need in their business in terms of people, processes and funding.”
AM: Are you happy with the size of the network?
DM: “Our network size is 136, we’ve opened two very recently and we’re moving at such a pace it’s almost hard to keep on top of it. We’ve had 12 new businesses opening this year and our ideal network plan is to have around 140.
“So we’ve got a few locations that will close and from the mid-130s we’ve got at the moment we’ll probably go a bit above that and then drop back. So we’ve got 10 open points and all but one or two have completion lined up.”
AM: Will the majority of the network need redeveloping?
DM: “We’ve already got a quarter of the network that is in the right facility and don’t need to do anything other than put up the new corporate identity. Another quarter can tweak what they’ve got and very quickly be there, another block behind them that can still get where we need them to be on their existing site, but might need to do something more substantial and relocate. In 95% of cases we’ve already got agreement on what needs to happen.
“I think at the moment our product stands ahead of our network.
“We need to work to catch up. I expect excellence over this growth period and we’ve got to have every dealership running really well.
“We want immaculate facilities, beautifully presented cars, tight processes, really good people management and the next four and a half years is all about delivering that across the whole business.”
AM: What area in the network needs the most improvement over the next five years?
DM: “I think the area we need to focus on most during Simply Grow is providing excellent customer service with tight processes, that still has a human touch and not losing that as we see more volume come through the business. We’ll be developing stronger processes around customer handling and customer contact particularly.”
Citigo takes Skoda into new territory
Skoda’s forthcoming city car Citigo will be based on Volkswagen’s Up which goes on sale in early summer 2012.
Like VW’s Up, Citigo will be available in three- and five-door versions, with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine developing 60bhp or 75bhp.
It will mark Skoda’s entry into the A-segment. Until now, its smallest cars have been the Roomster and Fabia.
“The Citigo is one of the pillars of our growth strategy. It paves the way for tremendous opportunities in a new segment,” said Skoda board chairman Pro-fessor Winfried Vahland.
“The demand for small cars with low fuel consumption, at a favourable price and with reasonable operating costs, is growing,” Vahland said.
“We are entering new ground.”