It's been a tough slog these past 12 months for Japanese luxury brand Infiniti.
U.S. sales cratered 21 percent last year as the Nissan subsidiary contended with one of the oldest product portfolios in the industry, while also navigating a strategic pivot away from fleet sales and heavy discounting.
Infiniti's 204 U.S. retailers took a hit on the balance sheet. About 40 percent of dealers are unprofitable, Automotive News reported in October.
Addressing that is a top priority in the new year, said Infiniti National Dealer Advisory Board Chairman Mario Murgado, 57.
"It's an all-hands-on-deck" situation, where everyone — manufacturer, marketing and dealers — is prepared and looking for ways to improve on it," he said. "We need to increase sales, increase throughput and get a higher and better return on sales for the dealer network."
Dealers will have to focus on cutting expenses, managing inventory levels and minimizing floorplan expense.
"We have to start playing offense. You can't win games just playing defense," Murgado said. "We are hoping that, together with the reduction of expenses, we also will have the right support, the right marketing and the right programs in place, so that we can get our throughput up and be more successful."
Murgado, CEO of Murgado Automotive Group Inc. in Miami, talked about this and other issues facing Infiniti dealers with Staff Reporter Urvaksh Karkaria. Here are edited excerpts.
Q: What's your outlook for 2020?
A: We are beginning 2020 with many of the same concerns that we had in 2019.
I look at it as a year for being focused. If you set the right foundation in place, you can build a skyscraper. I know that there is always room for improvement in everything that we do. I'm looking inward to see what we can do to improve and to do a better job across the board. How can we be better at customer acquisition, our data mining, service, parts?
In 2020, we want to improve at everything we do and be at least 12 percent better across the organization. We would love to have the manufacturer do a phenomenal job, have great products, market them right and at the right time, with the right colors and inventory levels. But those ideal situations don't always come.