READY TO TAKE OFF

The motto: ‘What counts is results. Together, towards a successful future.’

It’s a remarkable setting for a strong team. The 100 most successful dealers from Europe’s collective sales force for Opel came together in the Lufthansa Flight Training Center at the Frankfurt Airport last Monday, 18 January. Against the impressive backdrop, where Lufthansa’s cockpit and cabin crew train on a daily basis, GM Executive Vice President & President Europe Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann and Vice President Sales & Aftersales Opel Group Peter Christian Küspert set the stage for 2016 – the crucial year.

Opel Post joined the delegation to learn from dealers working in Palermo (Italy), Budapest (Hungary), and Madrid (Spain), who are among the best of the 4,000 European Opel contract partners. Peter List, chairman of Euroda (the European Opel/Vauxhall Dealer Association), and Ulrich Brass, board member of the association for German Opel dealers, speak openly about the mood amongst the dealers and about the challenge of selling even more cars in 2016.


 

– Iolanda Riolo –

Riolo Automobili, Italy
One branch, 45 employees,
Opel dealer for four years

One characteristic of being a car dealer in her home country is crucial above all else: “In Italy and right here in Palermo, Sicily, people want trustworthy dealers.” Of course, the product itself must be great, and the price must be fair. “But this is always the case with Opel products anyway – the brand has an excellent image.” But since the country’s economy is currently going through a difficult phase, the car market is extremely competitive. “Only someone who delivers respectable work can win,” Riolo says, and she is among the most successful at her job. In Palermo, she is the face of her car dealership. “I am always available for questions or concerns from the customers.” After four years of being in the market, Riolo Automobili will soon open another branch in Palermo.


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– Peter Christian Küspert –

Vice President Sales & Aftersales
Opel Group
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 “2016 is a decisive year for Opel/Vauxhall. We can think of today as a kind of training camp for the top players who are getting ready for this crucial season. There is a strong sense of teamwork and ambition from everybody in this room.”


The Lufthansa Flight Training Center (LFTC) in Frankfurt is a special kind of location, and it is one of the biggest and most modern training centers for international aviation. Just a short walk away from the Frankfurt Airport, cockpit and cabin crews from Lufthansa and 200 other airlines from all over the world train here daily.

 


Three questions for…
– Peter List –
Chairman of Euroda (European Opel/Vauxhall Dealer Association)


Mr. List, you represent 4,000 European Opel/Vauxhall dealers. What is the current mood like?
We dealers are very pleased with Opel/Vauxhall’s positive development. In my opinion, a decisive factor for the upward trend is the new Opel management team – a group of people in which parent company GM clearly places a great deal of trust.

What makes you feel optimistic?
Opel will once again be perceived as a successful brand, thanks to the great

products that are made with emotional designs and innovative technology. The Astra is the best example – it weighs less, features modern drive systems, and is fitted with all kinds of clever technology such as the intelligent matrix light system. We have many potential fleet customers for this model, especially the Sports Tourer version.

What will you take away from today?
It is a great gift for the dealers to receive detailed insights into the company’s strategy and to learn about the new products up-close. We are in this together to achieve a comeback for Opel. We dealers are ready. I, for one, will be urging my in-house team: “Rev up the engines! There are all kinds of great cars waiting for us.”

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– Marcin Kanclerz –

Salony Kanclerz, Poland
Two branches, 104 employees,
Opel dealer for 19 years

There are over 60 Opel dealers in Poland, and Marcin Kanclerz is the most successful of them. Based in Ruda Śląska, a city in Silesia just a few kilometers away from the Gliwice Opel plant, Kanclerz sold over 1,000 vehicles last year. His two locations scored the highest in the ‘mystery shopper’ customer satisfaction campaign by GM. Regarding his strategy, Kanclerz says: “The actual purchase of a car is a wonderful experience for most people. The real challenges are what come afterwards.”

The reason is that customers generally enjoy looking after the maintenance of their cars “about as much as they enjoy visiting a dentist.” Kanclerz wants to show that after-sales service is not only painless, but also be rather pleasant: “We want to win over the loyalty of our customers. We actively approach them, remind them of appointments, and in addition to being reliable and friendly, also tend to little things like offering coffee and cakes.”


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GM Executive Vice President & President Europe Karl-Thomas Neumann (left) compares the path towards an Opel comeback to a marathon: “We have started well, but anyone can run ten kilometers. The middle part was tougher, but we continued to move forward with focus. In 2016, we will reach an area that is more difficult still, but we will reach the finish line.” During his speech, musician and extreme sports enthusiast Joey Kelly (right) emphasized that with a strong will, great things can be achieved. “During my first triathlon, I almost drowned in the first few meters. Today, having run eight Ironman triathlons in one year’s time, I’m a world record holder.”

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Under the supports for the A380 simulator: the new Astra Sports Tourer.

 

 


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– Elisa Gil –

Agrogil, Spain
Seven branches, 200 employees,
Opel dealer for 30 years

The Astra and the Corsa are the most popular models in Elisa Gil’s dealerships. They are located in and around Madrid and have the strongest sales in Spain. “Here, Opel stands above all for tradition and the best of German engineering. The customers value the quality of the products,” says Elisa Gil. Agrogil is also seeing an increase in business customers. While fleet vehicles only make up 15 percent of Opel dealers’ sales country-wide, 40 percent of the sales in Elisa’s dealerships are to business customers.

According to her, three factors influence a car sale in Spain: “the design, the price, and the image – and in this order.” Gil thinks Opel is on an excellent path. “Since 2008, when the Insignia came out, we have been presenting automobiles that both we and the customers are incredibly proud of,” she says.


 

– Joey Kelly –

Extreme sports enthusiast, musician, and manager
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“There is no such thing as limits. When they started out, The Kelly Family would often perform with just one person in the audience. Later on, we began to fill up entire stadiums with crowds of 50,000 people.”

 

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Three questions for…
– Ulrich Brass –
Director of Brass Group and board member of the association for German Opel dealers


How optimistic do you feel going into 2016?
In light of the new products that Opel is bringing to the market, the mood amongst the dealers ranges from hopeful to euphoric. The targets set for 2016 will admittedly be a difficult challenge – especially for those of us who have to find our way through the stagnant market conditions.

How difficult will it be to increase the market share for the fourth year in a row?

 

I can only say that we will give everything we have to selling even more cars in 2016. The cars are better than ever before. The Astra will play a prominent role for us this year, which is so vital for us all. The market for compact cars is highly competitive, but the new Astra model will play in our favor.

How important are events like the TOP100 conference taking place today?
Very important. I can only praise Opel for coming up with the idea and seeing it through. The event highlights the fact that we manufacturers and dealers are on this path together, towards an Opel comeback. We have witnessed today an Opel management team that is burning for this to happen.

 


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Taking off in the simulator: Young aspiring pilots stand next to the dealers before taking flight with the Piper PA-42 Cheyenne.

 


 

 

– Tibor Török –

Opel Wallis, Hungary
One branch, 60 employees,
Opel dealer for 25 years

How do you become the best in a small market? Don’t copy anybody – instead, be the one that competitors copy. This is the motto that Opel dealer Tibor Török has followed for 25 years. Török saw a great potential in the market after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The reasons were that Opel cars had always been popular in Hungary, and Opel had established a long-term presence in the country by having built an engine plant in Szentgotthárd.

Török compares his business philosophy to one of the most successful soccer teams. “You need a strategy that then gets implemented by extremely talented and fit players.” To this end, the Budapest native takes great care of his online marketing, quality in service, and the back office – which includes accounting and IT services, for example – in order to cover his employees who are working in the showrooms. “Customers can immediately tell when someone cares primarily for customer satisfaction rather than just sales figures.”


Exquisite soul music for the spirit: The band ‘Luca Soul’ with singer Kati Camara performs during the dinner party.

 

Texts: Andreas Wollny, Tina Henze; Photos: David Strassburger