2015 is going to be another big year for the Ford Transit; on top of celebrating its 50th Birthday, it posted its best-ever commercial vehicle sales ever in April, with 16,497 CVs finding homes.
Much of this success is due to the Transit Centre network, so we caught up with Terry Rayner, Transit Centres Director, to find out more about this and their services for SME buyers.
“The business has been going great guns, is it a coincidence or is it a strategy? You know I think it’s a bit of both really.
“In 2008 we could see the new products coming through and we were pretty certain that these vans were going to appeal to artisans, small businesses – more than ever before.
“We’ve traditionally been very good at selling commercial vehicles, we’ve been very good in corporate and major fleet too, but less good at the retail and small business user end.
“So the idea of the Transit Centres was to really bring our proposition into a better place. Looking at what was coming from a product point of view, we had a view on the market that was fairly spot on really. If the market goes the way we think it’s going to go and the product being as appealing as we thought it was going to be, we couldn’t carry on the way we were.
We needed to actually break out our proposition into something away from cars
“We needed to actually break out our proposition into something away from cars, dedicated to commercial vehicles and more respectful of the type of consumer we’re likely to be dealing with
“Before the Transit Centres, van buyers could talk to a salesman, selling 30 cars per month and just three commercials. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but the truth is how are you going to get the expertise? The only way to get the expertise is to have a focus and a dedicated education and with a Transit Centre we do it all – not just bits of it. You can’t just be fleet or retail only – if you’re a Transit Centre you do the lot. So therefore to do the lot, you need that level of dedication.
“So, we came up with a proposition that split commercial vehicles away from cars in a structural sense, although we’ve still got common ownership obviously. Transit Centres have got their own dedicated sales manager, their own dedicated sales team and their own designated area of the dealership. This is important, because rather than being mixed in with cars, it’s actually a dedicated area for vans. In fact, in many centres that is a dedicated showroom. Of the 105 Transit Centres that we’ve got, we’ve got 32 new showrooms – which are completely new buildings.
“It has meant that some dealers have had to upgrade their facilities – in many instances adding another shift in. In all fairness, we’re not expecting dealers to build new workshops. So with the extended hours, it’s given them the chance to increase their capacity without increasing their property costs.
“In the car part of our business, it took a couple of years to change the look and feel of our dealerships. It was a slow and gradual change, but with commercial vehicles we came out with a standard and we gave our dealers a year and they all did it.
“The ones that didn’t want to do it are gone and we’ve brought in new recruits to replace them – although 98% of the network has remained with the increased investment.”