There are 500 Suzuki dealers in the U.S., and while some markets could use an additional outlet or two, “our focus is strengthening the existing dealer body rather than expanding it,” says Gene Brown, American Suzuki's vice president-marketing.
One way to do that is through a Suzuki Square program, in which dealers are encouraged and subsidized (at a rate of about $200 per vehicle sold) to build modern facilities using a corporate blueprint.
“It's not just a mild upgrade,” Brown says. “The Suzuki Square dealerships are designed to be modern and competitive without requiring an enormous investment.”
Features include a well-lit open interior and a sleek exterior with strong horizontal lines and a large brand sign.
About 168 Suzuki Square projects are done. Another 201 are in the works.
Suzuki also has expanded technical training for dealership service department employees in an effort to promote “fixing it right the first time, every time,” Brown says.
On the showroom side, Suzuki is encouraging dealerships to create a low-pressure sales environment.
“But that's a challenge, not only for us but for the industry at large,” Brown says, citing high employee turnover as an impediment to more refined selling techniques.
“Our (satisfaction scores) are not as good as we'd like them to be, but Suzuki Square dealers are doing better,” he says. “So it's trending up rather than down, and seems to be going in the right direction.”