Nissan's dealers, weary from years of marketing program swings and aggressive factory sales objectives, have a message for the Japanese automaker's next CEO: Be consistent.
"We can't keep experimenting," said Ray Brandt, CEO of Ray Brandt Auto Group in suburban New Orleans. "One day you've got a $5,000 rebate on a car, and the next day you don't get any rebate. We lose confidence with our customers. They think we're cheating 'em."
Asked to give advice to a CEO who hasn't been hired yet, retailers from around the country asked for consistency more than anything else.
The dealer body has been grappling with changing business strategies and a revolving door of factory leadership since the ouster of Nissan Motor Co.'s hard-charging chairman, Carlos Ghosn, after Japanese authorities arrested him on allegations of financial improprieties last year. Two weeks ago, his successor as CEO, Hiroto Saikawa, also exited the company after attempting to reverse many of the Ghosn strategies that pushed Nissan for much of this decade.
Whoever the new CEO, expected to be named by the end of October, will be, he or she will need to fix things for retailers in the all-important U.S. market, several dealers say.
"Dealers are betting their future that Nissan gets it right because we don't have a lot of leeway right now," said Tyler Slade, co-owner of Tim Dahle Nissan Southtowne in South Jordan, Utah.
They offered these suggestions to the next CEO: