What are your thoughts on the overall UK market and how Mazda has performed in the first two months of 2017?
We’ve seen market growth in January once more mainly driven by private sales which were up 5% year on year. Consumers are now very much aware of the impending vehicle road tax changes, which are due on 1st April, and as a result I’m expecting strong retail demand to be sustained during March as buyers pull forward their buying decisions to beat this tax rise. Mazda’s performance in January and February was always intended to be down against the same period last year due to planned reductions in high cost fleet channels and planned Mazda2 reduction in retail sales.
With the all-new Mazda MX-5 RF now on sale, how important is this car to the Mazda network and what’s been the response to this latest incarnation of Mazda’s iconic sports car from your dealer partners?
Mazda dealers have been really looking forward to the all-new Mazda MX-5 joining the range. They are excited about being able to showcase the car to both loyal MX-5 owners who have been waiting to see this car in the flesh and being able to speak to people who are new to our brand. This car is really important to dealers to help them to continue to grow their respective businesses in the longer term.
How have Mazda’s UK dealers bought the all-new RF to market and what kind of customers are they seeing take an interest in the RF?
The vast majority of the network are now embarking on either customer VIP preview events or a formal launch weekends. We have helped them design these events by providing Mazda product specialists to host, plus additional Mazda MX-5 RFs for display and test drive. We’ve even provided Oculus Rift virtual reality technology which allows customers to experience differing specs, interior trim and exterior colours variations even if that specific car is not physically there. These events allow them to invite the many new prospective customers who have flagged their interest as well as their existing Mazda owners.
What’s the UK sales expectation for the all-new Mazda MX-5 RF during its first calendar year on sale?
During the first year on sale we are hoping to achieve around 3,300 sales. However, we have already seen strong pre-order demand and therefore if possible we will look for opportunities to obtain further production for this calendar year.
With March being so important for sales across the whole range, what are the other big stories for Mazda in terms of consumer offers and highlights this month?
We were really pleased that we were able to enhance our offers for this quarter to include loyalty bonuses on Mazda2 and 2017 Mazda3. Our limited edition MX-5 Arctic which went on sale 1st February is also a great opportunity for customers who decide to opt for MX-5 convertible rather than the RF – it represents great value for money thanks to its stand out looks and extra equipment.
Mazda’s focus on delivering excellent customer experiences remains a number one priority during the busiest sales period of the year, can you give us your thoughts on how this is being achieved across the network?
Dealers have really embraced our focus on moving the customer experience from good to outstanding. We have supported this by providing every individual dealer in our network with bespoke consultations over the last 2-3 months, which shows just how committed we are about this. I have seen some great examples of really personal customer service in our network which makes our customers feel really valued. The challenge is sustaining that level of service during the frantic peak month but that’s something I am confident we can achieve.
Looking further ahead, 2017 also sees the launch of the all-new Mazda CX-5 what are your expectations for this exciting new SUV?
With all the enhancements that the new model brings and the continued growth in this segment, we are looking forward to hitting a fast start on sales for the new model. This is an excellent opportunity for existing CX-5 owners to renew into the new model and of course for new customers to our brand looking for a great looking SUV. This is another strong opportunity for Mazda dealers to flourish in 2017.
On a personal level what are the biggest challenges faced by you and your team during the busy March sales month?
The team have a really wide remit ongoing through the year ranging from new car sales, improving customer satisfaction, supporting overall financial performance and providing marketing expertise. The challenge during March is to keep all the plates spinning and really do all they can to ensure that dealers can deliver as many new Mazda sales as possible this month whilst making customers as happy as they can be.