Chris takes over the position from Robert Lujan who has been appointed Managing Director of Nissan Netherlands.
Chris was previously Network Strategy Manager responsible for the appointment and performance management of the Nissan dealer network. Most recently, he was responsible for the rollout of the EV network for the 100 per cent electric Nissan LEAF.
Since joining Nissan in 1992, Chris has worked in a variety of sales, aftersales and marketing roles, including marketing communications manager and as a regional operations director.
Chris said: ‘We have a major task ahead of us to grow customer retention in an increasingly competitive after-market. I am very much looking forward to the new challenge and working with the dealer network to ensure our shared goals of customer satisfaction and profitable business growth are achieved.’
Chris answered a few questions about his new role.
How is the eBay project working out in its early stages?
It’s very early days but we have already had a healthy level of business. Maybe unsurprisingly, it is the purchase of accessories that seems to be most popular. So far we haven’t marketed the site – our next step is to assess the early successes and weaknesses in order to refine the product range and implement the appropriate communications so we can give our message the right prominence in what is a very busy virtual marketplace.
What do you think is the secret of the success Nissan is enjoying at the moment?
It’s a combination of things but it’s ultimately led by one over-riding aspect – great product. Great-looking, exciting to drive, reliable cars that people want to own.
With strong demand, the dealer network is able to trade profitably and this generates confidence to re-invest in the brand – in good-quality people and facilities.
This means customers get a high-quality experience, from both the product and the people that they deal with, which can only be a good thing for our long-term customer retention and aftersales business.
How can Nissan stand out in an increasingly competitive aftermarket?
There no particular silver bullet. First you’ve got to be good at the basics – we need to be competitively priced and able to provide added value in the services that we offer. You don’t have to be the cheapest but a manufacturer network must be able to offer unparalleled value.
Then we need to make sure we are aggressively marketing our proposition to the consumer in as unique a manner as possible and consistently living up to our promises. This requires a level of sophistication in our CRM and database activity plus exceptional customer service.
What are your hopes for the LEAF now, in view of your involvement with the EV side of Nissan’s operations?
LEAF represents an enormous opportunity for the Nissan brand and its dealer network. Over the next 18 months, most major manufacturers will have an EV – the market is set for rapid growth and we are at the forefront of it.
Nissan has invested over £3.5bn in EV – we are seriously committed to making it a success and have an exciting range of EVs in the pipeline. Across the UK, the schemes are in place to deliver over 5,000 charging points by this time next year and the expectation is some 10,000 by end of 2013 – that’s more charging points than there are petrol stations in the UK!
So we need to be ready for the opportunity. Which means a level of upfront investment across the network and the confidence to see the long-term viability and profit opportunity that EVs will offer, both within the products themselves plus their role in building the brand image and the knock-on benefits this brings to all the range.