Fiat Chrysler Automobiles UK’s new managing director has spoken of the need for the manufacturers to “move forward as one” with its dealer partners after NFDA survey results raised concerns.
Former Ford and Seat man Ashley Andrew completed his move to FCA from a role as Skoda UK marketing manager four weeks ago and highlighted the importance of forging a strong relationship with its franchised partners in conversation with AM at this week’s launch of the new Tipo hatchback and 124 Spider.
Andrew said: “Latterly I worked in a senior marketing role with Skoda but the vast part of my experience is in sales, at Ford and during four years as head of operations at Seat.
“A key element of our success will be our successful partnership with our retailers and that’s something I intend to nurture. This is a very dynamic market and your best guage of what’s going on and response mechanism is the dealer network, so we have to work closely together.”
Earlier this month FCA scored a 5.6 overall score in the NFDA’s franchised dealer report, well below the industry average score of 6.7.
Among the areas of concern for retailers were the brand’s new car sales targets, which dealers rated with a 3.7 score, and their satisfaction with the new car targeting strategy, which attracted a 3.4 score.
Andrew said: “The recent NFDA survey was disappointing. We’ve moved below the industry average and, as such, that is something that becomes a fairly immediate priority for me.
“It’s essential that we move together as one and I’ll be working in the coming months to get out and speak to our partners to see what their concerns are so that we might be able to address them.”
One area where Andrew said that he is satisfied with Fiat’s progress is in digital marketing.
He said that, while retailers were often the industries key standard bearers online, Fiat had an impressive online presence with mobile optimised accumulators among an impressive arsenal of web tools.
He said: “I have a digital marketing manager as a first line report to me and that’s very rare at an OEM. I think that speaks volumes about how seriously Fiat takes digital mediums."
Despite Andrew's positive comments, dealers responding to the NFDA's question 'How satisfied are you with the integrating with their dealers websites?' scored Fiat a lowly 3.5 - the lowest of any manufacturer.
Andrew said that Fiat boasted an advanced customer management system to monitor online activity and feed leads into the network of 160 dealers. He added: “I think our dealers are generally very happy with our marketing activities.”
This week saw the UK media launch of the new Tip hatchback and sportswagon and 124 Spider.
Prices for the Tipo start at £12,995, with a 0% PCP offer making £159 per month repayments possible on a 24 month contract with a £2,749 customer deposit.
The Mazda MX-5-based 124 Spider features Fiat's 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and is priced from £19,545, with a PCP offer realising £269 monthly payments for customers placing a £3,499 deposit.
Andrew said: “The Tipo opens Fiat up to the UK’s heartland segment and forms another tool for us to realise our growth potential. At the price it’s a very compelling proposition which will give people an alternative to owning a used vehicle. It really is great value.
“The 124 Spider brings the network another iconic flagship – like the 500 – which will attract a raft of new ‘considerers’ to the brand.
“The reaction so far has been fantastic.”