Smoke and mirrors

  28 September 2015

It’s been quite a week for Volkswagen. The German car maker’s been through the media, corporate and political mill regarding the alleged emissions scandal.

And while there’s been a lot of talk and assumptions in, mostly, the mainstream media, there’s been very little clear and concise understanding about exactly how the aptly-named ‘dieselgate’ scandal impacts the UK market.

Sure, there are new people in charge in Wolfsburg, but it would appear that such a proactive and swift approach to addressing the matter hasn’t trickled down to the shop floor in the UK.

After reading various trade media stories and talking to retailers at the sharp end of this situation, it’s clear that leadership and guidance from Volkswagen UK has been lacking.

At a corporate level Volkswagen’s reputation has, undeniably, been harmed. But why should a retailer suffer by association or have to fend for themselves? Attempting to confidently field calls – despite a lack of information – from worried customers and noting a drop in footfall is far from ideal, yet this is what’s been happening.

Granted, it’s been a rollercoaster week for all concerned, but it’s at times like these that a retailer should be able to rely on a manufacturer. It shouldn’t be a one-way street, after all. Basic technical support and, dare I say it, a dusting off of the crisis management manual is the least a franchisee should expect.

Not a Volkswagen Group retailer? Lucky you. However, complacency is your enemy and I’d suggest using this opportunity to learn and make your own crisis plan. Just in case.

Iain Dooley

Editor, Agenda

Auto Retail Network

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