Dealer profitability was a key discussion point at Mini's NADA Show make meeting. To shore up profitability, the brand is giving its dealers' used-car business a lift, providing bonuses calculated from the total number of pre-owned and certified units sold.
Profitability continues to be the main focus with Mini, dealer board Chairman Jason Willis told Automotive News.
"Dealers need to be profitable to take care of our guests and to pay for the buildings," said Willis, general manager of fixed operations at Willis Auto Campus in Des Moines, Iowa.
Mini also will help dealers by paying for half of the certification expense of select model year pre-owned units.
"That makes it more advantageous to put that certification on [used cars], which brings more business into our service and parts departments," Willis said.
Dealer profitability has dogged the BMW sub-brand. Mini went from 45 percent of its dealerships being unprofitable in 2016 to 54 percent in 2017, Automotive News reported in March.
Mini told dealers it is also working to better manage product inventory.
"They've really stopped pushing inventory on us in a heavy way, so we're not carrying as much overhead or floorplan as we have in the past," Willis said.
At the make meeting, dealers were briefed about the new battery-electric Mini E, expected to arrive at U.S. dealerships in late 2019 or early 2020.
The Mini E is going to be an important product for the brand, Willis said.
"It's really just getting our first step into a market that we are not in," he said. "This is a product that's been talked about for a long time, so there's a lot of excitement with it."
This year's make meeting had a different vibe from prior years, retailers said. Dealers were "more optimistic" about the brand's future, Willis said. "The energy is starting to change," even if it's not reflected in the sales numbers just yet, he said.