The National Franchised Dealers Association has suggested the relationship between its members and their car manufacturers is deteriorating.
The results of the NFDA’s Summer 2015 Dealer Attitude Survey has shown that 17 of the 28 franchised networks involved gave a lower score for their overall franchise satisfaction than in the prior survey. Only 11 brands saw an improvement.
The average response of 6.2 out of 10 was the lowest score over the last three years. Skoda, which had told AM it had rectified issues after being rated the poorest franchise in the winter survey with 4.1 out of 10 for overall value, actually fell back further with a result of 3.9.
"The score suggests that the Skoda network has significant issues which are not being addressed quickly," said the NFDA report.
Volkswagen, already on a decline since winter 2014 but another brand which has told AM it is listening to its dealers, plunged from 6.7 to 4.9 and ranked third from bottom, just above Alfa Romeo.
Some 75% of its franchised network took part in the survey, so this has to be seen as a clear message to its senior management.
Topping the chart for overall franchise value was Mercedes-Benz, winner of the 2015 AM Award for Franchise of the Year, with a rating of 9.7 out of 10, an improvement of 0.7 points since the winter survey.
BMW was ranked second from top, its 8.6 point score a 1.1 point rise since the winter. Close behind was Lexus.
The survey shows Toyota achieved the most improvement, rising from 5.7 in the winter survey to 7.3 this time.
Nissan also improved strongly, up 1 point to 6.6 out of 10, and Honda rose to 6.3 points from 5.5 in the winter and 4.6 last summer.
Sue Robinson, NFDA director, said the overall survey responses gave particular concern in the areas involving profitability, targets and pressure to register vehicles.
"Answers to these questions showed that even in a strong market, some manufacturers are still pushing registration growth at the expense of dealer margin," she said.
Dealers returned an average score of 4.7 out of 10 when asked how satisfied they were with their new car targeting process. This score indicated that in general dealers were dissatisfied with the targeting process with their manufacturers.
Only three franchises returned a score of 8.0 and above, indicating a significant satisfaction level in these brands. Mercedes was the top scoring franchise with a score of 8.6 and both Land Rover and Lexus with scores of 8.0.
With a score of 2.7 both Volkswagen and Skoda had the lowest scores for this question.
Profit and profitability ratings also saw a decline. When rating the profit return by representing their franchise, an average score of 5.6 was recorded. This score is down 0.4 point since the winter survey, and 0.5 points lower than last summer.
When asked about the future profitability of their business the all dealer average declined from 6.3 to 6.0.
When dealers were asked ‘how satisfied are you that your manufacturer dealer standards are fair and reasonable’, the average score for the summer 2015 survey was 6.4.
This score was down 0.1 points from the winter survey and 0.3 points since last summer. The score would suggest that overall dealers are fairly neutral about their manufacturer standards, Robinson said.