My wish for Saab in 2011
2010 saw the rebirth of Saab, and in the infancy of the newly formed company there were many struggles and many fine accomplishments.
For 2011, I have a single wish for Saab. It is borne out of my affection for the brand, and for purely selfish reasons, since I have “skin in the game:” the better Saab performs this year, the better my service department and its employees (including me) will do in years to come. My biggest concern is the declining numbers of Saabs on the road, which has already led to diminution of our department’s size. While cars sold in 2011 won’t have an immediate impact on service business, they certainly help our sales department now, plus these sales sow the seeds of tomorrow’s parts and service business.
My wish for 2011 for Saab? In the US, I would like to see 100,000 test drives. I believe in the current line-up and the new models coming later this year, and am confident that they stack up very well against the competition. I have no doubt that a substantial number of potential buyers would buy the product if they a.) knew about it; b.) were offered a proper walk around; c.) went for a good test drive. Remember the “People who test drive a Saab….” campaign. It was true then and I believe it is true today. There are many obstacles to Saab sales, and I know that we as a brand and as dealers have gotten addicted to the cycle of rebates and dealer incentives to move products. I would rather see (remember, I’m not in sales but I have a stake in all this) those incentives reduced or eliminated, except for certain times of year, and the monies saved applied to getting prospects into showrooms and getting their back-sides into the driver’s seat. Advertise. Incent. Promote. There are folks who do that for a living—give them the money to get prospects behind the wheel.
At that point, it all rests with the dealer and the salesperson. There will be winners and losers, but that’s how markets work. I would think that a 40 percent closing ratio on customers who actually test drive is conservative. That would translate into 40,000 units sold in the US if we could achieve 100,000 test drives. 100,000 sounds like a lot, but is it? I don’t know the exact number of Saab dealers in the US, but lets say it is about 220. That would mean each US dealer would have to get 455 test drives done this year. That’s 9 test drives per week. For dealers open six days a week, that 1.5 road-tests per day. All of a sudden, 100,000 doesn’t sound so large.
There’s my 2011 wish for Saab. For the rest, I wish you all a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!