MANAGING DIRECTOR, MAZDA AUSTRALIA
HAVE you noticed how car companies are now so focused on the customer experience? Bereft of fleet volume delivered by locally built cars, Ford and Holden have been waxing lyrical about it. These days even Toyota calls its customers ‘guests’. Well, talking the talk is fine, but Mazda Australia has been walking the walk since the 1990s. It’s a key reason it ranks so high in the sales race here and is a standout performer for its Japanese parent. Malcolm Gough, MD in the 1990s, was the originator of the private customer focus. It worked very much on the basis of distributor, dealers and the customer getting a fair deal. Sounds simple but the devil’s in the detail. For instance, Mazda has barely expanded its dealer network in tripling its sales to more than 100,000 per annum. More customers means more income, which makes Mazda franchises very lucrative. But those dealers are expected to deliver for their customers and hit exacting standards demanded by Mazda.
Gough went to Japan to teach the Australian mantra and his successors Doug Dickson and Martin Benders (who also served in Japan and Europe) continued the private customer focus.
Both Dickson and Benders were longterm Mazda men and so is current MD, the Fijian-born Bhindi, who started as a dealer manager 22 years ago and worked his way up through the ranks.
Mazda has become the pin-up company for successful vehicle retailing in 21st century Australia, which also means its rivals see it as a target to be knocked off.
If they can figure out how to do it and provide better service to all of us that’s probably good news … for everyone except Bhindi and his management team.