Skoda looks to soar
Patrick McGillycuddy has only been head of fleet at Skoda since the end of last summer, but it’s been a stellar few months with sales soaring and new fleet- specific product. And there’s more to come he reckons.
He says: ‘The brand’s growth has been phenomenal. Since 2010 up until the end of last year volume has grown 60% in total and 70% in fleet, which is outstand- ing, double digit growth year-on-year. Every new car we’ve introduced has done phenomenally well and aligned with that is the growth of the fleet team, which has been restructured to help drive that growth.
‘Historically in our balance of business, retail has always dominated fleet, but as we drive past our current 3% overall share (we’re slightly behind that on fleet) we are trying to bring that up to 50/50.’
Part of that growth is a bigger sales force. Last year, the firm increased the area fleet team from four to eight.
‘Even before I joined, the business had recognised that we need to bring our fleet sales up, so we have more guys speaking to more fleets more often, which means winning more business as well as being able to manage current customers better,’ he says.
‘That’s been one of the biggest changes: getting resource out to face the customer and talking to bigger firms, targeting 100-plus fleets whereas historically we might have gone after smaller fleets. And we’re seeing great success in that area.’
With Octavia, Superb, Rapid, Rapid Spaceback, Fabia and Yeti, Skoda has a very strong range which as McGilly- cuddy says offers something for everyone.
‘We have low CO2, good SMR and strong RVs, so in terms of a wholelife cost proposition we are spot on.
‘We launched Octavia last year and it has been a phenomenal success, and we’ve just launch the 85g/km Greenline which is a real advantage for us, particularly in estate which is a big statement in the market.
Across Octavia, Superb and Yeti, Skoda has launched an SE Business range tailored specifically to the require- ments of company car drivers.
‘These new “business models” are a highly competitive proposition that deliver low whole life and running costs and a small BiK taxation liability, without the need for corporate customers to compromise on their reduced carbon footprint,’ he says.
‘There’s a triangle of practicality, quality and value with our cars, and that really works in the marketplace, especially when talking to the corporates with job need and restricted badge fleets who also need a bigger network and more resource, which we now offer. So we now have the ability to service their needs too.
‘I believe it's about earning the right to tender, about building relationships with fleets and their stakeholders, such as leasing and fleet management companies, and understanding the different dynamics that are in play, so that even before that tender is released we're in a posi- tion to be competitive.’
Total fleet sales last year was just shy of 30,000 and this year Skoda aims to sell over 35,000 across all chan- nels although McGillycuddy says the biggest growth will be in true fleet, specially off the back of the new product. But it will also have to do better in leasing to hit those numbers, and Skoda has taken steps to address that.
‘We can do more in leasing. We need to have that resource there as 90% of the market is funded through those firms and the top six to ten do most of that, so we need to make sure these guys understand us. We are on a very aggressive growth path and we need to ensure those firms who are keyed in to our wholeluife costs, RVs, product and strategy so that when we are talking to these large fleet operators, that is echoed by a lease company.
‘Now we have two guys looking after north and south contract hire firms because it’s about building the whole relationship and helping them to understand Skoda – who we are, what we are and how we do it.
There’s also a dedicated resource for rental and Mota- bility which McGillycuddy says will take a much bigger part in future Skoda sales.
‘In Motabaility, we are under-indexed but we will aim to grow. At the moment we’re at a 1.7% share when we are a 3% brand, so we are aiming to go to 2.5% this year. But we need to make sure the retailer network is ready to serve that customer.’
Evolving the network is an important part of Skoda’s plans and the Fit for Fleet programme has morphed into a Business Centre scheme.
‘It’s a programme with around 30 centres across the country with a process of accreditation and support from us, both operationally and systems-wise on how they channel and target local business,’ says McGillycuddy. ‘There are 1.5 million small business fleets and we need to get our fair share of that business, or perhaps even our unfair share.’