Automotive Blog

“No one ever got fired for criticising dealer ordering skills”

121204 NVS

Last week, with help from my colleagues, I delivered feedback on the new vehicle supply research undertaken in 2012. In the discussions, skills gaps emerged several times as a key issue. Turnover of staff at National Sales Companies mean that some skills have been lost, and reasons for certain past decisions not fully understood, such as different payment terms for cars sold to customers from the factory order pipeline. Several comments underlined that for all partners in the supply chain, the gaps to be filled are not just technical skills. Gaps in awareness of supply strategy should be a priority in today’s weak and volatile markets, and addressed through promoting a wider understanding of current supply system capabilities and good practices outside the supply chain departments to sales, marketing and beyond. Are individual dealers to be left to ‘sink or swim’ on the range and quality of pipeline and inventory they offer to customers? For example, why the resistance to distribution centres, when once distribution centres do exist, National Sales Companies and dealers are generally unwilling to move to back to uncontrolled stocking at the dealership? One interesting comment from someone at a manufacturer was that culturally and organisationally, it is harder for managers at NSCs to volunteer to take on the responsibility and risk, rather than blame dealers for ordering the wrong cars and then having problems with stock. So yes, education and training can help, as can sales planning tools, but closing skills gaps is also question of responsibility. An individual dealer cannot second guess what customers will ask for from a wide and very complex product range, so don’t blame dealers if customers don’t want the stock mix on offer.

Written by Ben Waller

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