Interview with Marc Samuel, head of Corporate Cars, Honda
Where do you see Honda’s natural spot in the company car marketplace?
We’ve positioned ourselves with a strong offering for company car drivers to want to choose. We are never going to reach the same number of units sold as the likes of Ford and Vauxhall, but we can ensure that we are in the mix and offering drivers the opportunity to use a Honda for work purposes. The product line-up that we have in Jazz, Civic, HR-V and CR-V ticks a number of boxes, but we are not going to have 40 different models to fit every niche.
What is the Honda Platinum Programme?
The Platinum Programme ensures that our valued corporate customers are properly catered for when visiting dealerships. The idea behind the scheme is to train sales people on-site in the dealer network and equip them with the knowledge and expertise they need to offer bespoke guidance and advice to business customers, so they receive the package or car that is right for them and their requirements. Part of this is ensuring that we can talk in the language corporate customers want to talk in and to have the right level of detail – what the BIK and CO2 levels are, the average economy figure of the car and giving a true-life experience as well. Additionally, we have a 48-hour test drive programme which allows customers to take cars for an extended amount of time, so they get to know the vehicle properly before deciding to take it.
What growth opportunities are there for Honda within the corporate sector?
There are opportunities everywhere. I think, due to the inconsistent nature of where we have been, things can only get better from here on. We have a virtual account management team which is getting in touch with the sub-400 fleets, and that has allowed us to have more contact with individual fleets. Frankly, the people we need to speak with haven’t got the time to sit and talk for an hour because they have other things in their role, because they’re HR, FDs, MD. We’ve managed a 350% uplift in customer contact using that team.
Additionally, we have our two major account managers that look after the 400+ fleet and public sector accounts for us, one for the north and one for the south. We’ve also recognised the importance of user-chooser fleet, affinity schemes and salary sacrifice, hence the support behind the platinum programme.
Can you tell us more about the virtual account management team?
We launched our virtual account management programme in 2016 to meet the evolving needs of customers, particularly those in small to mid-sized businesses who don’t have a dedicated fleet manager and limited time to dedicate to vehicle procurement. Since its launch, the scheme has tripled customer contact and increased Honda UK’s year-on-year sales.
The launch has been pivotal for Honda, and its success speaks for itself. We’ve disrupted the traditional sales model and it’s delivering real value for our customers.
As mentioned, many businesses don’t have the time or resource to meet with a sales representative face-to-face, but they still need to procure vehicles and receive account management advice. Honda’s approach allows them access to support in a format and time that works for them. We will continue to invest in this programme at Honda to ensure we always have the right resource available for businesses.
What are Honda’s plans around electrification of its line-up over the next few years?
By 2025, two-thirds of our vehicles are going to have some sort of electric or hybrid powertrain, ranging from full electric, plug-in hybrid, petrol hybrid and the fuel cell.
This will be achieved gradually, as vehicles come through their life cycles. So, the first round of that was the CR-V in early 2019 and as we go through more model changes, we’ll start to see more coming through in Jazz, Civic and HR-V. We recognise people want electric vehicles, and the Honda E Prototype and Sports EV concept are great-looking cars; I’m really looking forward to what they’ll look like in real life.
For more information on Honda’s corporate services, visit www.honda.co.uk/cars/new/corporate-services.html