Al Habtoor Motors (AHM) is all set for major changes as it undergoes a complete restructuring of its operations here in the UAE, beginning with a new man at the helm
The man in question is Paul Thomson, vice president of Al Habtoor Motors franchises. A twenty-year veteran of the automobile industry, Thomson is confident that the UAE auto market one that is ripe for change on factors other than price.
“If people only bought on the basis of price, we’d all buy the cheapest,” says Thomson. And since that not a universal truth, he is banking on differentiating AHM from its competition. “We have a unique spread of vehicles here,” says Thomson of AHM’S franchises. “At one end is the Rolls Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin and SAAB while the Mitsubishi range and Galloper bring up the other. That’s why it is clear about the range of customers. What differentiates us must be the value we add to the deal.”
Part of differentiation is expected to be in customer satisfaction and streamlining the after sales service. According to Thomson, this will include the courage to advise the customer of their real needs and of treating each one as an individual. “I want the buyer to be able to walk into the showroom and expect his salesman to introduce him to the servicemen. The deal should not end with the sale.” After sales service for its part, will see a sharpening of its value to the customer in the speed and quality of its service. Perhaps for the first time here, cars that are sent in for servicing will be test driven before being handed back to their owners.
The key factor in this philosophy is the by now, well-worn adage, ‘It’s cheaper to retain an old customer than it is to find a new one’. But as Thomson argues, some things are true. “Automobile firms have not yet realized the full potential that lies around them,” he claims. “In other markets, service is the backbone of the industry and there is a healthy used car market. We’re going to have to understand it is not just the sale but also the retaining of that relationship with the customer. More importantly, it is about being able to establish the right kind of relationship with them.”
Although business and fleet sales will remain the major source of revenue for most of the automobile dealers here, Thomson believes that people will begin to raise the levels they set of service and quality. “People are going to realize that cars are dangerous products, and safety standards for cars, and driving, will have to be improved. Environment too, will soon become a major concern. After al, unleaded fuel is available here. So why can’t cars have catalytic converters? It certainly doesn’t cost any more.”
With a total reworking of everything from philosophy to physical assets and with a revamp of their showrooms on the cards, AHM are preparing to prep the market for customer satisfaction this year.
NEW GALANT LAUNCHED IN THE UAE
Al Habtoor Motors recently launched the new Mitsubishi Galant, winner of the Japanese Car of the Year Award 1996-97. The car will be the lead in the Mitsubishi range of saloon cars in the UAE.
Naim Abdul Hadi, senior vice-president of Al Habtoor Motors told reporters at the launch, that the new Galant, combined a high level of safety with comfort, and had several environmentally friendly features.
The Galant comes with a choice of either a 2 litre or 2.5 litre engine, manual or automatic transmission and is priced from Dh 53,000 to Dh 78,000.A three year or 60,000 km warranty will be available on all cars in the range.
“We are expecting to double our sales to over 1,200 units due to the high specification of the car. Our market share of the 2 litre to 2.5 litre segment is around 10 per cent which, with the launch of the new Galant, is set to rise to around 15-20 per cent,” Naim said.
He went on to say that the entire range out of the new Galant has already sold out and that sales for the other two models, Lancer and Colt, have been outstanding since the models were introduced into Dubai in 1996. Mitsubishi will launch a new Sigma Saloon sometime in 1997