The latest survey of UK Dealers, conducted by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), has found a slight drop in the satisfaction of franchised car Dealers regarding their relationship with manufacturers.
Dealers recorded an average satisfaction score of 6.1 in the NFDA Winter 2017 Dealer Attitude Survey conducted in January. The score was unchanged from the same time last year, but 0.1 lower than in the summer 2016 survey. Responses were scored from 1 (extremely dissatisfied) to 10 (extremely satisfied).
Sue Robinson, Director of the NFDA, said the winter 2017 survey had 1,704 respondents from a total of 29 participating franchise networks, a response rate of 41 per cent.
Mercedes-Benz was once again the highest scoring franchise with a score of 9.6, up 0.1 points compared to the summer and 0.3 points higher than in the same period last year.
Kia consolidated its second position with a further improvement of 0.1 points to a total of 9.3. Lexus was the third placed franchise with a total of 9.0 points, which was unchanged from last summer.
Suzuki and BMW closed out the top five with 8.6 and 8.2 points respectively.
The franchises least valued by respondents were Citroen (3.8), Mitsubishi (3.9), Volkswagen (3.9) and Nissan (4.0). Apart from Citroen, which saw its score improve by 0.2 points, the other three experienced significant declines.
“A number of manufacturers have clearly taken into consideration previous negative scores and now improved their position, showing that strengthening the Dealer-manufacturer relationship requires effort but is achievable,” Ms Robinson said.
“Dealer networks such as Mercedes-Benz and Kia have consistently performed well over the last few years, but it is also positive to see that other networks, such as Peugeot and Mazda, have shown enormous increases in score within the survey.
“However, average scores across the majority of the questions have generally worsened. In such a critical period it is fundamental that manufacturers and Dealers continue to constructively work together towards the same ultimate objective, which is ensuring that the automotive industry is well represented at all levels and continues to thrive.”
Mercedes-Benz Dealers again topped satisfaction levels when asked about their current profit return, with a score of 9.6. Alfa Romeo Dealers were the least satisfied, with a score of just 2.8. Peugeot Dealers saw the biggest improvement in satisfaction, up 1.9 points to 7.1, while Jeep Dealers had the biggest decline, down 1.8 points to 3.7. The average score was 5.4.
When it came to future profits, Dealers were a little more positive, with an average score of 5.6, although this was down 0.3 points from the previous survey. Mercedes-Benz once more came out on top, with a score of 9.1, while Citroen brought up the rear with 3.2. Seat and Skoda were the most improved, with gains of 1.1 points, while Nissan saw the greatest decline, down 1.9.
New vehicle margins
Kia was the best performer in this regard with a score of 8.4. The worst was Mitsubishi, scoring 3.1, while Mercedes-Benz saw the biggest drop, down 1.9 to 7.2. The biggest improvers were Peugeot and Skoda, both up 1.3 points to 7.4 and 5.2 respectively. The average score was 5.5.
Return on investment
Regarding the required level of capital investment, Mercedes-Benz again led the way, scoring 9.2 points, with Peugeot again the most improved, up 1.5. Jaguar was the bottom performer, on 3.0, while Jeep saw the biggest fall, down 1.4 points. The average score across all Dealers for the required levels of capital investment was 5.5. This was 0.1 down from the last survey, but 0.1 up on the previous 12 months.
When asked about the return on capital for their dealerships, a majority of the Dealer network (15), experienced a decrease in satisfaction regarding their return on capital. Eleven experienced an increase and three were unchanged or new to the survey. The average Dealer gave a score of 5.2; 0.1 down from the last survey but the same as the winter 2016 average response. Mercedes-Benz Dealers topped the list again, recording a satisfaction level of 9.1. Alfa Romeo Dealers were the least satisfied, with a score of 2.9. The biggest improver was again Peugeot, up 1.6 points, while at the other end of the spectrum, Nissan and Land Rover saw a 1.7 point decline.
Regarding their satisfaction that the volume target aspirations of their manufacturers were realistic, the average score of 5.0 was a decrease of 0.2 points from the last survey, but up 0.1 from the previous winter’s result. Kia Dealers were the most satisfied, returning a score of 8.8, while Jeep Dealers were the least satisfied, rating 2.5. Skoda was the most improved, up 1.0, while Nissan satisfaction plummeted 2.2 points.
The average Dealer’s satisfaction with bonus and rebate rates for new car sales decreased by 0.2 since the last survey. This is now 5.5. Likewise, a majority of Dealer networks (17) saw a decrease in their levels of satisfaction. Ten reported an increase. Mercedes-Benz was the top performer at 8.8, while Mitsubishi was the worst at 3.5. Mazda was the big riser, up 1.2 points, while Jeep and Nissan both suffered a fall of 1.5.
Day-to-day working relationship
The average score here was 6.5, down 0.1. Mercedes-Benz Dealers reported a score of 9.7, while Nissan Dealers scored just 3.7. Peugeot was up 1.0, while Nissan was down 2.4 points.
On whether they were satisfied, their manufacturer took their views into account. Dealers returned an average score of 5.9, down from 6.1. The top was Mercedes-Benz at 9.7, the bottom Nissan at 3.2. Mazda was up 1.1 points and Nissan down 2.1.
Manufacturer Dealer standards
Top: Mercedes-Benz (9.4)
Bottom: Jaguar (4.1)
Most improved: Peugeot (+1.2)
Biggest decline: Vauxhall (-1.5)
Top: Mercedes (9.5)
Bottom: Jaguar, Citroen, Nissan (4.4)
Most improved: Peugeot, Subaru (+1.0)
Biggest decline: Nissan (-1.6)
Overall manufacturer scores
Asked to rate their overall satisfaction levels with their manufacturers, Dealers responded as shown below:
Land Rover 6.3
Alfa Romeo 4.5
Most improved: Peugeot +1.3
Biggest decline: Nissan, Jeep -1.3
Average score: 6.1
To see how satisfied the different Dealer networks were with their manufacturers across all elements of the survey, a different measured was used, i.e. the average score they gave to all questions. Across all questions, the average score given by Dealers was 6.2 points, 0.2 below the average score of the last survey. Since the last survey the average level of satisfaction decreased for the majority (18) and increased for just 10, with one network new to the survey.
The third way to evaluate overall performance of the various manufacturers was to look at the total movement in all questions of the survey for each Dealer network. Only 10 saw a net positive movement in the survey, while 18 saw a negative movement overall and one was new to the survey. The average Dealer saw a total negative movement of 7.6 points across the entire survey.
Peugeot was the best performer with a total increase of 67.9 points across all questions. Jeep saw the largest decline, losing a total of 51.96 points.