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Free Maintenance Package Draws Customers

Free Maintenance Package Draws Customers To Christchurch Dealer

A unique low cost motoring package is reaping rewards for a Christchurch Suzuki motor vehicle dealer and its customers.

Success of a “cost-free” motoring package has pushed Hollands Suzuki Cars market penetration for new Suzuki motor vehicles to record levels in Canterbury and to one of the highest market penetrations for Suzuki world-wide.

The Hollands dealership sold 591 new Suzuki’s last year, a 33 percent gain on 1999 and a performance good enough to give Suzuki 9.2 percent share of the total new car market in the Christchurch region. Suzuki was the third best selling make, beaten only by Ford and Toyota and ahead of Holden, Nissan, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Hyundai.

Hollands Suzuki’s market share last year was over three times higher than the national average for Suzuki. Last year Suzuki secured 2.8 percent of the total New Zealand new car market and was in ninth place nationally with its total volume down slightly on 1999.

The secret to Hollands Suzuki success lies in a simple formula, which provides motorists with a worry-free ownership deal that is great for budgeting and keeping costs to a minimum.

Dealer principal Gordon Holland had run a Suzuki Motorcycle dealership before taking on the Suzuki Automobile franchise for Christchurch in 1986.

Fifteen years ago Gordon came up with the idea of providing free servicing and maintenance costs for anyone buying a new Suzuki from his dealership.

“Owners only have to pay for their own vehicle insurance, petrol and relicensing,” says Gordon Holland, who runs the dealership with his son Mark. “We cover all servicing costs, including tyres, punctures, oil, filters and so on.”

The dealership runs a fleet of 40 to 50 courtesy cars and offers a pick-up and delivery service for clients. So not only do customers always have a car at their disposal, but they do not need to take their vehicle to Hollands Suzuki for servicing.

The service even includes a generous loan of a courtesy car should the customer’s vehicle become damaged in an accident.

One year’s free servicing and maintenance costs are provided for every ten years of an owner’s life. So a 50-year-old buyer gains the benefit of five years’ free servicing and maintenance costs and a 70-year-old no fewer than seven years of similar service. Should an owner trade in or buy another new Suzuki from Hollands, then the cycle starts again.

“A few were sceptical when we launched the scheme,” says Gordon. “But the cynics have long since gone.” One opposition franchise tried a similar scheme but abandoned the idea after a period.

Hollands Suzuki claims there are two reasons why it has been able to offer the special package for so many years. One has been the strength and reliability of the Suzuki brand and the other has been the structure of the company.

“We’re a family company with a freehold dealership and low outgoings,” says Gordon Holland. “With low overheads we run leaner and meaner.” Family businesses are now unusual among larger motor vehicle dealerships.

The business operates from premises outside the traditional “car sales” area, in the semi-industrial suburb of Waltham.

“The resale of Suzuki is good and it was a wise decision by Suzuki in Japan not to get into big discounting of its products,” says Mr Holland.

He says the quality of Suzuki products has always been high and now the brand was moving from having something of a niche product lineup into mainstream volume selling with models like the new Ignis five-door hatchback.

“We still do not have a full model range like some of the bigger manufacturers so we cannot hope to make huge sales gains each year. But we are doing well with cars like the Grand Vitara and Baleno station wagon. Suzuki is the equal of anything and in some cases has a definite edge over the opposition,” he says.

Hollands Suzuki Cars was delighted to take number three in the Christchurch car market last year and has set individual goals for models. “We have a high percentage of repeat customers and we work hard to get a smooth system. There are more things in people’s lives than cars and we try to make vehicle ownership easy for our customers,” he says.

Because of the financial implications of the free servicing, it is in the interests of the dealership to keep customer cars in perfect mechanical condition.

The dealership monitors all mechanical components and finds the low warranty claims and excellent reliability significant factors in making the motoring plan viable.

With the solid increase in sales, Hollands Suzuki added four more sales people last year, bringing the total staff to 21.

Gordon Holland says the recent increase in business is linked to the “critical mass” now reached by his dealership.

He says on average each customer talks to around 500 people a year about his or her car. This builds on itself and helps boost the number of potential clients.

Peter Goldfinch, Automobile Sales Manager for Wanganui-based Suzuki New Zealand Ltd, the national distributor, says, “Holland’s secret is total customer satisfaction. The cost-free motoring plan is now famous in Christchurch.”

The plan does not apply to fleet or business buyers but Mark Holland says the effects of the package have been beneficial to all aspects of the dealership’s operation. As the good word spreads, company and fleet buyers increased to around 40 percent of the dealership’s business.

The dealership also sells used cars at the rate of two to every one new vehicle. But it is the remarkable “cost-free” programme, which has now been operating for more than a decade, which continues to impress motorists in Canterbury.

Andrew Gillam, Automobile Marketing Manager
Suzuki New Zealand Limited
Private Bag 3008
Tel: 06-3458544
Fax: 06-3454352

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