It’s no secret that Hyundai has won numerous kudos in recent years for its fast-paced introduction of new models that showcase their commitment to electrification and connectivity.
Those and other rapid-fire innovations are a positive for the automaker’s bottom line and reputation, but some question how dealerships can keep pace and manage to run efficient, profitable operations.
“We really want to partner with our dealers because when we move to mass adoption, (customers are) going to walk into the dealers after they've done their research online and they want to know…’Is that going to work for me?’ says Olabisi Boyle, a vice president of Hyundai Motor America. “(We routinely ask) ‘How do we work with our dealers as we meet with them to say this is the criteria so that you're ready when we sell these?”
Boyle fielded the question about dealerships following her keynote speech at the Center for Automotive Research’s Annual Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, MI. Although she is responsible for guiding the strategic direction of Hyundai’s U.S. vehicle lineup, leading long- and short-range planning and overseeing market research, business analytics and pricing, she and her leadership colleagues routinely explore and discuss ideas with dealers.
That type of regular communication is crucial, allowing the automaker to gather information on a number of vital areas of concern including consumers’ barriers to adoption. Allowing leadership to work in a hybrid environment – part remote, part in office – combined with the cross-pollination among divisions ensures a unified message and dealer responses are known throughout the organization, she says.
That is especially important due to changing consumer demographics. When dealers share their knowledge of buyers’ concerns and preferences with automaker leaders, it allows the company to form industry partnerships that satisfy market demands.
That type of communication has paid off in dealer enthusiasm and, of course, business success, says Boyle. Hyundai won an array of awards and accolades from WardsAuto and others, including the World Car of the Year award, presented to the Ioniq 5 BEV.
She expects that to continue to grow as the automaker rolls out its new models and strategies, including its try-before-you-buy program that Hyundai piloted the past six to nine months with what Boyle says are “key dealers.”
“What we found is that (customers want to) have a car short-term to try it out,” Boyle says of the program in which customers pay a monthly fee for the car that includes insurance, maintenance, roadside assistance and a full digital experience. The term of the agreement can vary from one month to three months or longer.
She credits the dealer body for the increasing popularity of the program, which relies on Hyundai’s finance arm for capital.
“We work with dealers so we can learn as we go through the (pilot) process before we work it out,” Boyle says. “And now the conversion rate is growing. The customers are coming back and saying, ‘I like the Ioniq 5. I’ll buy it.’”