“I don’t see there being anything that a regional group can do for you that an owner-driver can’t, except for facilities.
“If part of your strategy is to optimise your network and you want a big glass palace in the centre of a metropolitan area, I understand why some brands have been pulled towards that.
“We’ve been tempted by taking the short route, but I still think there’s room in motor retail for a local hero.”
How Suzuki is getting the dealer relationship right
Suzuki has significantly improved its reputation and partnership with dealers. The latest NFDA Dealer Attitude Survey makes for positive reading and a strong ROS is boosting its standing compared with its nearest rivals in terms of market share.
Suzuki dealers rate the brand at 8.2 out of 10 for the value of holding the franchise, ahead of Mazda at 7.5, Volvo is at 5.4, Seat at 5.5 and Renault at 4. The 8.2 rating puts Suzuki 0.1 points away from Mercedes-Benz and above premium brands such as Jaguar at 7.1.
Dealers are happy with the product, the returns and the management style, said Wyatt. “We’re listening and we’re giving some really good support with field staff to the dealers. We were rated at 28th place for field staff and now we’re fourth.”
He makes sure Suzuki maintains a personal relationship with the biggest stakeholder in the business.
“It only works when the relationship is close. We understand how to work with an owner-driver business and have the confidence to let them be entrepreneurial within their territory.
“I see a lot of other manufacturers looking to manage their brand, but we accept that the most successful dealers have their own brand.
“We tend to have guidelines rather than rules. We have a very small, but important, list of things that would upset us.”
An end to discounting?
Many manufacturers talk about moving away from a discounting culture, but Suzuki’s UK network believes it has already done so. The products are priced correctly and the consistent consumer offer of no VAT means the majority of customers are not looking to haggle at the point of sale.