With Nissan Motor Co. mired in a leadership shake-up, the company's freshly minted North American sales boss, Jose Valls, assured dealers the automaker is focused on addressing their biggest gripes.
At Nissan's make meeting Friday, Valls promised consistent and fair objectives to the company's often controversial stair-step incentive program, while pledging to reduce bloated inventories of dated models on dealer lots.
Nissan said it will to move to 90-day sales objectives to give retailers a longer planning period to orchestrate their sales and marketing efforts, dealer David Wright told Automotive News after the meeting.
"As we all know, Nissan would change objectives sometimes weekly," Wright said, half-joking.
The longer-term visibility should allow dealers to manage their advertising better and stock inventory better.
"With margins under pressure, dealers need to turn inventories faster to keep expenses down," said Wright, dealer principal at Dave Wright Nissan in Hiawatha, Iowa. "To not know what your future incentives are going to be, it gets harder and harder to do that."
While the stair-step program is not going away, Wright said the dealer body wants a "fair" system of tackling the factory objectives.
"Personally, I think the programs are disastrous to the consumer," he said. "It puts us in a bad position when dealers are fighting against each other and the customer is in the middle."
Valls also addressed a long-standing gripe of dealers — bloated inventories — according to dealers who attended the meeting.
Nissan made it "abundantly clear they want to get us to a 60-day supply," Wright said.
Nissan told dealers it wants to reduce inventory to ensure that at least 60 percent of the vehicles dealers sell in December 2019 are 2020 models.
The meeting was Valls' first formal presentation to U.S. dealers since he took over responsibility for U.S. sales and marketing on Jan. 2.
Valls' presentation was "very positively received," Nissan National Dealer Advisory Board Chairman Tim Hill said after the meeting.
"He did say the right things in a way that I think a lot of dealers believed him," said Hill, owner of Hill Nissan in Winter Haven, Fla. "But at this point, Nissan dealers are all about the action."