This was posted by Tim Maccabee yesterday on Facebook:
Tim Maccabee comment 3.6.11
by Ducati UK on Friday, 03 June 2011 at 12:52
It’s around this time of year that we start to look at our budgets again. Taking a look at how we forecast 2011 will close and first serious considerations on 2012. I’m cautious on these things borne of experience of 2009 and 2004 which were both distinctively years of 2 halves, but looking now, 2011 should be a good year. Volumes are up, not only on the back of Multistrada and Diavel but also Monster and 848 – both of which would have been higher if product availability had been stronger. It’s always difficult to forecast the right number of bikes, but as a rule, we would prefer to have one less bike than demand versus having one more than demand. While it can be frustrating for customers who may have to wait, it does keep the supply chain “clean” and helps to protect residual values in the longer term which in turn helps all purchasers.
For 2012 we have to start planning what we will and won’t do. We have SO MANY good opportunities that it really is a case of which we don’t do as much as which we do. Ducati Days is a good case in point. We’ve had lots of good feedback but it was very expensive for us. Do we repeat this for instance or run extra roadshow dates where we can get 100+ customer test-rides, usually at well known biking venues. Or put extra investment into shows, UK racing, training or advertising. It’s an interesting process and for sure I’m not complaining about having these decisions to make. And for what it’s worth, there has been some great feedback about Ducati Days event that will help us to make it bigger and better if we do run it, or something similar again. Thanks for that.
While the market overall is reasonably constant this year, some brands are growing while others decline. I genuinely worry for retailers who hold a portfolio of declining brands, where they are battling to retain profitability and turnover against a background of a weakening franchise. Ducati is thankfully growing in the UK based on some very positive factors, but I know, even our dealers have to be vigilant in their business practices to maintain the profit levels required to ensure ongoing investment. All of this against a background of rising customer expectations and our own expectations in terms of brand presentation etc. I always believe purchase decisions should be made with an eye on whether you value your retailer when deciding how and where to take your custom.
Lastly, on the subject of forums (again) we are currently reviewing how we handle customer issues as and when they arise. A few times this year, a conversation we felt was confidential between us and a customer has ended up printed, or para-phrased, on a forum. While I am in favour of open information, it does make it more difficult to make those fine judgements on things like goodwill issues if we are worried that the next day most of the details (but not necessarily the full picture) will appear on the web thus encouraging others to demand the same goodwill where it is perhaps not justified. It actually encourages a much more black and white policy which is not where we feel we want to be. I’m also concerned about Mr Information’s unruly daughter – Miss Information. Sorry about that, but seriously some things that appear on the web…
On this subject, we do always refer cases back through our dealer network. Even if it requires a customer finding an alternative dealer that they are happier with, the dealer network are our eyes and ears, they look after the motorcycles in operation in the UK and we rely on their judgement and recommendations. At the end of the day, it’s our best chance to offer the best customer service to all of our UK customers – and that is what we are here to do.
As ever, comments, questions or suggestions on topics to cover are welcome.
Managing Director, Ducati UK Ltd