Skoda is benefiting from a two-prong approach to winning fleet business which combines the Volkswagen group approach with its own active field team. It is opening the door to more corporate customers.
Despite extensive advertising in fleet and consumer press, the company says there are still many fleet managers running medium-sized operations who do not know much about the brand.
“They still see us as we were 15 years ago,” said Skoda director Alasdair Stewart. “It is still a challenge to get on some choice lists: either the guy making the decisions doesn’t know about Skoda or the employees are not asking for it.”
A group approach to fleet sales incorporating Audi, Seat, Skoda, Volkswagen and Volkswagen Commercial is helping the company into fleets for the first time, although the challenge is to win share against its strong sister brands.
“This is about finding a balance. We get inside doors that we wouldn’t otherwise get inside with leasing companies and fleets. But we have to make sure out offer is strong as well.”
Skoda has also taken steps to improve its competitiveness by involving the key pricing influencers earlier in the new product development process.
“We have an expert panel that looks at the specification and advises what business and fleet users need. It’s about the touch and feel, quality and level of equipment,” said Stewart.
“One thing we have changed is to add a leather steering wheel to the base specification of the future model; it might add a few pounds to the rice but it makes a big difference to the residual value.”