Blog: The agency rabbit hole
12 March 2018
The latest bout of NFDA Dealer Attitude Survey scores hit a third consecutive all-time low when they were published last Monday. That may not be surprising to anyone who’s partaken in the survey or glanced at any recent results, but if you look at the figures over a longer period of time, save for the odd leveling off or flutter of a rise, they’ve been deteriorating for at least the past five years.
You can almost forgive 2017. We’re all well aware that new car sales were down 5.7% and it’s clearly affected some manufacturers, which, rightly or wrongly, is bound to cause them to lean on the network. However, the previous four years were absolute corkers; sales were well and truly on the up as the market leapt and bounded away from the financial crisis.
You’d think that 2012 to 2016 period would have yielded better results from the NFDA’s assessments, but it really didn’t, and the figures have just carried on their gradual downward spiral. Yes, some manufacturers do well, but is anyone doing anything about the overall declining scores?
I’d suggest that a minority is – Seat being a good example, having really bucked up its ideas in the past 18 months – but that doesn’t account for the drop across the board. The concern is that few of the manufacturers seem to really care what retailers think and, if things carry on the way they are, will the networks end up more akin to an agency agreement, rather than a franchising one, where the OEM calls all the shots, owns the vehicles and the vendors are simply paid a fixed fee per sale?
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