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Dealer Attitude Survey: Premium brands top dealer recommendation survey

For the first time ever, the latest NFDA’s Dealer Attitude Survey asked franchisees how likely they were to recommend their brand as a business partner.

It will be intriguing to see the coming years’ trends of responses, given that it serves as a new benchmark of satisfaction. Plenty of dealers are already familiar with the format, given its growing use in CSI surveys.

Not surprisingly, given the current resilience of the premium segment, the highest recommended franchises in this survey were BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.

> To see these brands compared against a number of DAS criteria over time (winter and summer surveys) click here.

Those unlikely to be recommended were Renault, Subaru, Mazda and Alfa Romeo, all of which have had product range and profitability issues.

Those brands were similar positioned when dealers rated the value of the franchise.

> To see these brands compared against a number of DAS criteria over time (winter and summer surveys) click here.

Overall, the emerging trend is one of declining franchise value as the economic squeeze continues.

Even the traditional high performers Audi and Lexus have seen satisfaction dip slightly, although they are still quite strongly rated, while rivals such as BMW and Mercedes have made small gains.

Both BMW and Land Rover are rated best in balancing manufacturer standards with the return on investment, while Alfa Romeo, Peugeot and Vauxhall come bottom.

Peugeot and Vauxhall are also criticised for having unrealistic volume target aspirations.

Profitability continues to be a major concern for almost half of the franchises. Renault, Mitsubishi, Citroën and Subaru franchisees in particular report dissatisfaction with the current return from their franchise and also don’t see that improving in the future.

Even Audi comes under scrutiny for its current levels of return, although dealers are more upbeat about its future prospects.

The star performers for current profitability are Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Nissan – all brands with desirable products and strong ambition.

All are highly regarded for future profit potential too, as are the one-time budget brands Kia and Skoda – confirmation that manufacturer demands for dealer investment are acceptable provided the business case is sound.

Average dealer satisfaction with manufacturer new car bonuses has slipped slightly, although remains above satisfactory.

Dealers were least pleased with bonus programmes offered by Subaru, Mazda, Citroën, Ford and Audi.

Audi, Vauxhall and Mercedes-Benz were also criticised for their inducements on dealers to self-register new vehicles.

Their result contrasts wholly with Lexus, which was top rated for its incentives and attitude to self-registrations.

Sue Robinson, NFDA director, said: “2011 saw a very challenging environment for franchised dealers.

"It is of no surprise that dealers have indicated their profit returns were not satisfactory at a time when vehicle sales were depressed and margins under pressure as they chased targets.”

  • Comparative results for the last eight DAS surveys are available at our new subscription service AMi (
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