Fernando Enciso
Director Mexico
Grupo Surman
View from the Top

New Vision Needed to Keep Dealership Business Current

Fri, 01/24/2020 - 12:21

Q: How has Grupo Surman advanced in its strategy to revamp sales?

A: We have taken significant steps toward changing the way we sell cars. In some cases, Grupo Surman engages directly in the sales innovation strategy that each brand implements. In others, the company establishes its own methodologies and promotes new digital channels. For example, we developed a new app that helps us monitor the used-vehicle inventory of our 95 dealerships to improve communication within our network and make used-vehicle sales more efficient.

Dealership visits continue to plummet, with an increasing amount of sales now coming from digital leads. As a dealership group, Grupo Surman cannot afford not to change its ways. Working the way we used to is unsustainable. In this new environment, we must attract more millennial talent who bring digital know-how to the company. The combination of younger and older generations in Grupo Surman’s sales force has not been easy, however. On the one hand, there is the advantage of modernizing the leadership style in our organization and generating a new internal dynamic. On the other hand, the cultural change toward modernization that we expected has not happened as fast as we had hoped, so staff turnover has remained high in some areas of the company. It is complicated for any company to retain millennial profiles when there is a Generation X or older leadership in place.

Q: What future do you see for Grupo Surman and its competitors in the digital age?

A: The dealership role in vehicle sales will change. We will become customer service centers to some extent, so our staff needs to adapt to meet this new profile. Grupo Surman will continue to meet OEM requirements, such as having large showrooms and in-house shops, but the company will also adapt to new formats as brands implement new ideas. For instance, Chevrolet is now launching videowalls, where users can configure their car using a life-sized digital version. As we adapt new technologies to our showrooms, we will continue hiring younger staff who can help the company deliver a positive digital experience to customers.

Q: What is Grupo Surman’s strategy to stand out in Mexico’s contracting vehicle market?

A: Quality service goes a long way in the vehicle market. There are so many brands and vehicle options out there that people look for a trustworthy consultant that helps them understand what type of vehicle better suits their needs. One of the advantages of being a multi-brand company and the largest dealership group in Mexico is the possibility to offer a wide vehicle lineup to clients and to collaborate with digital sales channels to deliver the vehicles they need.

Rather than just making customers feel good with the purchasing process, Grupo Surman also focuses on boosting employee satisfaction to the point where they are proud of what they do and they transmit this feeling naturally to customers. Customers can sense when people are happy and passionate about their work, which gives the customer peace of mind. It also instills trust, which leads the customer to come back for new purchases.

Q: What partnerships is Grupo Surman developing to deliver a more attractive value-offering?

A: Out of a need to complement their income, companies are starting to enter areas of the automotive business in which they were traditionally not present. For instance, Grupo Surman used to develop agreements with insurance companies and aftermarket lubricant suppliers but now works with the companies that have an agreement with all the brands that we manage. We work closely with the brands that we represent and are always onboard for the new projects that OEMs implement to generate synergies in new business lines.

Grupo Surman works with all the financing branches of the brands it represents and we have our own vehicle leasing division, called Time 2 Lease. These different business lines help the company deliver a more integrated value offering to car buyers.

Q: What are Grupo Surman’s expansion goals for the short term?

A: Grupo Surman plans to have 150 dealerships in its network and is well on track to achieve this goal, with 112 dealerships across Mexico at the end of 2019. The challenge now is maintaining the profitability of the traditional dealership format that OEMs demand from distributor partners. Despite the ongoing decline in sales, Grupo Surman is investing to secure a better position when the market bounces back. We not only need to grow our number of dealerships but also improve our organizational culture and update our technology.