Mazda UK Managing Director Jeremy Thompson
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  • Focus on customer care: OEMs are very precious about their brand but it succeeds old fails at the point of retail. Nail that and I’m very pleased
  • Have a real passion for the brand: There’s a high level of success based on the predication that you really believe in what you’re selling and being knowledgeable about it.
  • Longevity and succession management: It’s important to build a long term relationship with your OEM and to have an honest succession plan which does not necessarily involve family with smaller businesses. Many plcs have a fast churn of management around their dealers so it is not easy to build relationships – it doesn’t help either that there’s a fast churn at the OEM (not so at Mazda – Thomson has been MD for 10 years!)
  • Lead management: Most OEMs use Trackback to get direct feedback on how leads are being managed by dealers. When there’s been no contact attempted we get very hot under the collar. There should be a forensic focus on this.
  • Staff recruitment and development: The auto industry and its dealers are a long way behind others such as hospitality and hotels when it comes to dealing with customers for sales and aftersales service. Those industries do not pay any better but they deal with people in a better way.
  • Think outside the box: Reach out to customers rather than waiting for them to come in through the door. The Mazda My Way project in London, where the brand does not have a dealer, takes cars to potential customers
  • Take a ‘we’ attitude to your OEM rather than ‘them and us’. It should be a collaborative relationship. Mazda does not have a dealer council but every six months senior managers go out into the field to meet dealers to discuss, advise and guide.
  • Appreciate your OEM’s priorities: there’s only so much time it can spend worrying about dealers selling the product, look at how you can feed back and help.
  • Build relationships: Those dealers who have the best relationship with their OEMs will be prioritised. New dealers should get to know the senior management at their OEM – anonymity is dangerous
  • Be experiential: Come up with ideas to reach out and be involved with your community and that goes beyond sponsoring the local cricket club. Mitchell Mazda in Chester, for example, also has Ford, Skoda and Lexus, and offers a free car wash every Saturday. This regularly attracts 150 people who spend time in the showroom. The dealer holds a 100 car MX-5 drive out two or three times a year which is so popular it has to provide tickets. It also held a carol service at Chester Cathedral which attracted 1,200 people from across the brands.


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