Nissan ranked 15th out of 32 in the latest National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Dealer Attitude Survey. The automaker ranked 10 places higher than a year ago after easing up on its high-pressure sales program.
Nissan is "changing the conversation," U.S. sales chief Judy Wheeler told Automotive News last week.
"We're not pushing wholesale with our dealers," Wheeler said. "Instead, we're working with our dealers on: How do we help them run their business better; how do we engage better with customers; how do we use our e-commerce platform to touch the customer wherever they are in the buying process?"
Nissan backed off a market-share-at-all-costs retail strategy to one more focused on profitability.
Tyler Slade, vice chairman of the Nissan National Dealer Advisory Board, ties the record increase in NADA survey results for Nissan to tight inventories resulting from the global semiconductor shortage. The situation has led to a “record increase in profit for Nissan dealers,” he says, which improves dealer sentiment.
A product reboot boosted excitement in the brand. Nissan has unveiled 10 new or updated models in 20 months.
Slade, an operating partner at Tim Dahle Nissan Southtowne in suburban Salt Lake City, says the new models drive employee and customer enthusiasm. But still, dealers would like to see Nissan speed up vehicle updates.
Slade explains the automaker is slower to refresh its product. “If they can take their core models and keep the product cycle to four to five years, then we feel like Nissan's franchise value and brand value will only continue to increase,” he said.
Management also has worked to restore factory-dealer relations.
Nissan has abandoned the stair-step dealer volume bonus, or DVB, program, which used cash awards to incentivize retailers to hit aggressive monthly, quarterly or year-end sales goals.
That strategy upset Nissan's dealers who felt the automaker set unrealistic sales targets that led to price discounts, diminished resale values and damaged brand reputation.
Nissan Nissan replaced the program with a bonus plan that rewards dealers for delivering customer service and building brand loyalty.
With inventory tight and margins high, Nissan dealers feel positively about the brand, but remain concerned that Nissan drop its new pull-vs.-push retail strategy once microchip availability speeds up production.
Nissan executives express the company’s commitment to a days supply in the high 40s once the inventory crunch ends. Days supply for the company before the pandemic was 90 days.