Mazda’s new Business Development Programme initially involved 19 franchise dealers across the UK covering '32 areas of influence' and has so far generated more than 200 company car orders taken from sub-50 fleets. By the end of the first 12 months of the Programme (April 2011) - Mazda forecasts incremental orders for 820 company cars from businesses operating less than 50 vehicles.
Still in its early stages, the new scheme, which sees franchise dealers working in tandem with an outsourced specialist sales team, has been hailed by Mazda fleet director Peter Allibon and participating franchise dealers as a great success.
"The feedback from the first wave of dealers has been very positive," confirms Allibon. "They are delighted that a frontline vehicle manufacturer is working hand-in-hand with them to develop fleet business. As a result, more dealers are now approaching us to join the programme.
"Not only are dealers benefiting from the initial supply of new Mazda cars to fleets, but they will also see workshop business increase as a result of service, maintenance and repair work."
Alex Bass, dealer principal of the three Vospers Mazda franchises in Exeter, Plymouth and Truro says: "We established the group fleet business 18 months ago, which included a fleet manager, two fleet executives and a fleet administrator.
"So, we had an existing presence in the local fleet market, but the Business Development Programme has given us significantly increased support and is helping to build long-term relationships. The extra knowledge and resources we now have access to provides invaluable support.
"Although we are winning incremental business already, we are taking a long-term view. Keeping in touch with local businesses and being available when they require help, together with the competitive current Mazda model line-up and exciting new vehicles coming on stream, means we are confident of securing further small fleet sales opportunities."
While Mazda's own corporate sales team focuses on fleets running 100 plus vehicles, Magma Services, part of the London-based automotive specialist Magma Group, is driving forward fleet sales to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in partnership with Mazda franchise dealers.
A team of four Magma-recruited Business Development Managers, located regionally to support dealers in maximising local business opportunities in their respective areas, spends at least 50 percent of its time working with the dealers on prospecting, marketing and joint visits. The team spends the remainder of its time exploiting direct selling opportunities to local businesses and educating SMEs about the opportunities available to them in running their fleet vehicles in partnership with Mazda.
Allibon concludes: "The reaction from small fleet customers is equally encouraging as many businesses are experiencing a car manufacturer approaching them directly for the first time, with information and advice on company car acquisition and operating policies and procedures. The Programme has added appeal when customers are reminded that the entire Mazda range is stylish and features well-equipped cars at highly competitive prices."