Charlie Hughes, president of Mazda North American Operations for only three months, says he wants to get Mazda on more consumers' shopping lists, but he also wants to improve dealerships. The former Land Rover exec discussed his priorities with Staff Reporter Julie Cantwell.
My No. 1 priority is to get more people interested in buying Mazdas. Right behind that, we have some work to do on the retail level.
What work is that?
It starts out by saying what are the elements of the Mazda brand that the customer would find value in the retail environment. We're doing some work on that right now. Another thing is how do you tie in your process with your Web site? And what kind of feel does your Web site have, and what kind of feel does your retail environment have? Some of these things are very people- and process-oriented, and some of these are very emotional and some are very physical. I'm talking about the way they (customers) are handled; the way information is exchanged; how easy it is to do business.
How do Mazda dealerships fit in with Ford and its Premier Automotive Group?
These are all brands that have done a very good job of getting the brand essence down to the retail level. That's one of the challenges we tend to face at Mazda. Our stores tend to be far more generic. One of our challenges over time is we have to bring more of the Mazda brand (image) into the retail environment.