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Dealers face improvements to the customer experience

Kia's dealer network will be tasked with higher sales in the coming years as the brand continues to strive towards 100,000 annual registrations.

Dealer development director Simon Hetherington told AM Kia does not plan to increase the number of sales points significantly now, so the challenge will be to increase unit throughout per location.

Currently the 172-strong network averages 320 sales per outlet, with a 1.3 used to 1 new ratio.

Under Kia's Vision 100 strategy, dealers are being asked to make their own business plan showing how the strategy, and higher sales targets, will reflect on their territory.

It may mean bigger showrooms for some, and certainly means expansion of used car operations and larger aftersales teams.

But the opportunity is increasing too. If Kia hits its 100,000 target in 2016 there will be a parc of 250,000 sub-3-year Kias for dealers to target.

And with Kia's seven year warranty, Hetherington said, the total opportunity could be a 500,000 parc of cars still under warranty.

Tools such as the manufacturer-backed Care 3 service plan and the seven year warranty must be used to improve customer retention, which Hetherington said is below the industry average at present.

Equally vital to lift this is an improvement in the customer experience. JD Power results show this is an area where Kia falters, although it is taking steps in the right direction.

In many cases it will be simple changes, such as creating more customer parking at the dealership, and recruiting and preparing staff to serve a higher number of customers.

“If we are to be a serious top five mainstream player we need to act like a serious player in the customer experience,” he added.

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