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Manufacturers strengthen dealer networks

16 April 2015 #CV Sector #CV Show #News #Top Stories #Van

A number of exhibitors at the CV Show 2015 took the opportunity to highlight their dealer network offerings.

Ford has opened 105 specialist Transit Centres nationwide with a comprehensive service promise – Transit24 – which promises extended opening hours, while-you-wait servicing and priority treatment for urgent repairs.

Ford of Britain Director, Transit Centre, Terry Rayner said, “More than 30 centres have built showrooms dedicated to light commercials.” The number of centres is about right believes Rayner and there are no plans for a further expansion in numbers. There could be scope for adding more Transit service-and-parts-only outlets from the current total of 83 however.

Transit Centres sell Ford’s entire light commercial line-up and a lot more is required of them than investing in bricks and mortar. “They have to be staffed by a team that is dedicated solely to light commercials,” he says.

The commitment can be a worthwhile one however Rayner stresses, “I know of dealerships that have set up Transit Centres and are now pulling in van sales and service business within a 40-mile radius compared with the 15 miles they were achieving previously,” he says.

Over at Mercedes-Benz, which was giving the latest Vito its UK launch, vans managing director Steve Bridge is busy overseeing the roll-out of the Van ProCenter network. ProCenter dealers have to achieve more than 50 standards covering all business areas.

Seven dealers embracing some 35 locations are already ProCenter accredited. “The majority of dealers should be accredited by the end of this year and that should give us 80 sites,” he says.

Dealers have to be audited annually to retain their accreditation says Bridge. “It’s not a gift for life,” he remarks.

Setting up a showroom is important from the viewpoint of making retail sales, but not essential. “And if I’m running, say, 15 vans then I think I’d want the salesman to come out and see me rather than expect me to go to him,” he comments.

With an order for 197 D-Max pick-ups from the Environment Agency under its belt – the biggest fleet order it has ever netted – pick-up specialist Isuzu UK announced at the show that it was strengthening its dealer network by appointing selected dealerships as Fleet Centres.

Fifty have been appointed so far, all of which have had to sign up to a 14-point Fleet Charter. They have to commit to capped labour and parts rates and to providing customers with a suitable alternative vehicle should their Isuzu be off the road for more than three hours.

Last year was Isuzu UK’s best ever, with more than 5,500 registrations. The pick-up market is set to become more competitive however, with Mercedes-Benz and Fiat among those planning launches.

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