Reduced lead times help Mazda drive fleet sales
Vehicle waiting lists at some manufacturers are an average 12-14 weeks, with some order times stretching to six months and into mid-2011. However, following the establishment of a "fleet vehicle sold order pot" programme, Mazda says its key dealers are meeting corporate demand within 10-14 days of orders being placed.
Four strategically located Mazda fleet centres – Arnold Clark in Scotland, JCT600 in Bradford, Norton Way in Letchworth and Johnsons in Oxford and Swindon – handle approximately 65% of all Mazda's contract hire and outright purchase fleet business.
Each quarter the four dealers forecast the model mix they expect to be most popular with fleets. The vehicles are then manufactured and held centrally on the dockside at Zeebrugge in Belgium. When fleet orders are taken, the dealers "pull" cars from the "pot" and deliver to customers within 10-14 days.
Since launching the concept in the final quarter of last year, the number of vehicles held at Zeebrugge has increased from 600 to 900 in the final quarter of 2010 – although Mazda is at pains to point out that the programme is totally demand-led, with no manufacturer push.
Rodger Eyeington, fleet manager at JCT600 in Bradford, has seen corporate sales increase 10-15% this year as a result of model availability.
He said: 'Fleets are not prepared to wait three to six months for cars. When they are quoted that length of lead time they look to other suppliers and Mazda is winning business because of the quick delivery of vehicles.
'Fleets are cancelling orders with their first choice manufacturer and turning to Mazda because they are impressed that we can get a vehicle to them within two weeks. As more customers find out about our short lead times Mazda is moving to the forefront of choice lists.'
Now Mazda is looking to expand the initiative by allowing dealers belonging to its Business Development Programme to access the system. The Programme is focused on increasing corporate sales to the SME sector and involves almost 40 Mazda franchise dealers.
Mazda fleet and remarketing director Peter Allibon said: 'We will roll the initiative out to more dealers because of the lengthening vehicle build lead times of other manufacturers. Businesses and their company car drivers are only prepared to wait so long for cars and several months is unacceptable to many.'