ORLANDO, Fla. -- The message for Volvo Cars of North America dealers is, "Hang on, help is on the way."
Hang on for a dealer meeting in San Antonio scheduled for March 5-8.
Hang on for details on programs to help them become profitable.
Hang on for an April launch of the C70 hardtop convertible.
Hang on for more consistent national advertising.
That was the word from Anne Belec, CEO of Volvo's U.S. marketing arm, and Hans Krondahl, head of marketing, to about 120 dealers attending the make meeting.
Volvo dealers said they were cautiously optimistic. "This will be a year that we get through," said Don Beyer, owner of Don Beyer Volvo in Alexandria, Va.
"In an industry where we rise or fall on the basis of our new product, this is a relatively dry year for us. Still, we have lots to look forward to with the C70. That car will have a halo effect for the brand."
To help, Volvo will launch a national ad campaign to coincide with the launch of the C70 in April. Executives said the advertising, still under development, will encompass TV, print and targeted marketing efforts. They also said that Volvo will increase its marketing and advertising budget by 20 percent. In the first six months of 2005, Volvo spent $34.7 million on advertising in U.S. media, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Belec told Automotive News before the meeting that Volvo needed to raise its brand awareness in the United States. She said the advertising budget increase is necessary because the company will not have a lot of new products this year.
Volvo told dealers that it is committed to helping them remain profitable. The company is developing plans to give dealer sales and marketing functions a unique Volvo identity.
"I was happy to hear about their commitment to dealer profitability," said Ray Ciccolo, president of Village Automotive Group in Boston.
Ciccolo said he is eager for details about Volvo's dealer-employee development plan. He said he also is eager to learn how the company will roll out plans to upgrade dealerships.
Volvo has instituted a program to remodel U.S. dealer facilities as part of its global branding campaign. Executives were careful to let dealers know that they were not demanding that they spend money upgrading newer facilities already in operation.
You may e-mail Greg Bowens at [email protected]