“It’s been an amazing year and next year will be too” – The Lance Bradley interview
You’ve just had the dealer forum meetings. How did they go?
Twelve months ago we had a round of dealer forum meetings and it was just after the factory had confirmed they were going to give us some better pricing and I said to the dealers: “We’re going to grow by 33 per cent”. A lot of them looked at me funny because of the year that we had just had. We have a good relationship with the dealers and they wanted to believe me but 33 per cent growth is a lot.
So this year – when we have actually achieved more than that 33 per cent – when I stood in front of them and said “We’re going to grow 25 per cent next year so be prepared for it” it’s a much easier message to understand because they have already experienced the increase.
It’s good times. We had these three dealer forum meetings this month and we got a spontaneous round of applause in all three locations – and we never get a round of applause at the dealer meetings. It’s not something you expect but it’s very nice.
2013 has been a great year for Mitsubishi Motors in the UK. How would you reflect on the last twelve months?
It’s been a great year for us and we needed it because we had been having a tough time. Nobody minds working hard, us or the dealers, but when you are working hard to manage decline, it’s not very rewarding. When you work hard and you grow by 40 per cent, that’s much more fun. When you get stories about being the number one brand in the UK it makes everybody feel better. We have had some new dealers and that has helped a bit but most of the growth has come from our existing dealers and that’s a real credit to them. 75 per cent of our dealers have grown by more than 25 per cent, 40 per cent have grown by more than 50 per cent so that’s big, big increases. That’s a lot of work for them to do that and it’s a signal of their confidence in the franchise.
What’s the mood like among the dealer network?
They are really positive. The positivity that’s in the network is fantastic. If you believe that you will succeed or believe you’ll fail you will probably be right and now dealers absolutely believe that we are all going to succeed. It’s particularly interesting with new dealers who have been with us a year or so. I am always pretty honest with dealers and they are not always used to that. So when there are things that are difficult, if you explain it and explain what you’re doing about it and how you’re going to address it they understand that. There’s no point saying every thing’s brilliant if it’s not. If you’re open and honest it adds credibility to what you say. It means you can have a level of trust and that’s worked well for us.
How is the end of 2013 shaping up?
It is important to have a good close to the year and the dealers need to hit their December targets. One of the things that we talked about at the dealer meetings was that we have objectives too and we need to hit our Quarter Four numbers and we asked the dealers to help with that to make sure we hit the numbers. The way that things work with MMC we get a high level of attention because the UK is one of the top 10 markets in the world for Mitsubishi and it’s also a really important strategic market. So one of the reasons we get such a positive response to things like ASX is because we always hit our numbers and when we do that it just makes it easy for the senior management over there to say “They always do what they say they will so we’ll help them”.
We have been dragging slightly behind this quarter so one of the messages we gave to the dealers was the need to find some more registrations and the dealers responded to that so that’s good.
But there’s still two weeks to go so please make sure you do everything you can this month.
And what about looking ahead to next year?
It was easier this time round to say we’re going to grow 25 per cent next year because we have already done so well this year. We have been growing, the growth will continue, probably not at 40 per cent but there’s no reason why it can’t be more than 25 per cent, so the message is: Be prepared for it, don’t wait and see. Trust me. I told you it was going to be 33 per cent this year and it was, it was more than that. Those of you that prepared for it straight away have had a brilliant year, those that waited to see what happened haven’t had a brilliant year. That’s going to happen again this year. So it’s your choice: Go home and prepare for it now and have a great year because I’m telling you the growth is going to happen, or wait and see and don’t have such a good year.
The response to that so far has been positive because of course, everybody wants to grow and increase their volume. The ASX is going to be the car that leads the growth. The dealers are pleased with what we are doing. ASX has always frustrated them because they know how good it is but we have never sold enough and now we probably will. It’s a car that they like selling, it’s a small SUV, it’s a really efficient car and it’s not a hard car to sell because it’s so good. If we can drive more people into the showrooms dealers will sell them so everybody wins.
Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to the dealers?
The key thing is we have had an amazing year and we’re going to have another amazing year, so it’s an exciting time. I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.