08 May 2019
SsangYong may be a relatively small brand but it has big aspirations in the UK. TNB caught up with Nick Laird, MD of SsangYong Motors UK, at the CV Show last week and chatted about his plans to take on the industry’s big guns.
Catching up with Nick Laird on the SsangYong stand at last week’s CV Show was quite a challenge.
No sooner would the former Ford man settle down to begin the interview than another eager customer would swing by to say hello, shake hands and talk business.
But, when we did finally sit down to begin the interview proper, it soon became apparent that a friendly, relaxed and personable approach lies at the very heart of the brand’s plans to build its CV and fleet credentials.
“Marketing, advertising and PR are all crucial to our development,” said Laird, “and they’ve all been incredibly successful for us as we’ve looked to recharge our image and appeal in the passenger car market.
“But when it comes to building our reputation and growing our customer base on the fleet and commercial vehicle side, there’s simply no substitute for personal relationships.
“People buy from people for sure but it’s more than that. Trust in a manufacturer and the support they have is a vital part of the decision-making process for fleet and CV customers – particularly owner operators and SMEs – who need to know that they will be properly looked after and supported throughout the lifecycle of the vehicles.
“That kind of trust comes from looking someone in the eye and so it’s crucial that everyone representing the SsangYong brand, either at head office, or in our dealer network, operate in the same way with the same principles.”
It’s with this philosophy in mind that Laird has presided over a rapid, but carefully managed, expansion of the UK detail network and the company’s core team centrally.
In the past month alone, John Winrow, has joined as joined as Dealer Commercial Manager for the north of England and Scotland, while Ian Wilson has come aboard as Dealer Recruitment Manager, strengthening the franchising team.
Meanwhile, the brand will have added over 10 new dealers in the first 6 months of the year, giving it a rapidly expanding UK network, with many more appointments in the pipeline in the very near future.
Laird added: “Over the past 18 months, we’ve implemented a dedicated fleet support team and a strong fleet strategy to strengthen our fleet business, and to develop relationships within the fleet marketplace. And to confirm the confidence that we have in our product, we’ve recently introduced the best 7-year warranty available in the UK market, which is always very appealing to fleet operators and fleet managers.
“But we’ve also been very careful to select the right dealer partners to work with us – partners who share our vision and understand that we’re not just a car brand, but that commercial vehicles are a very important part of our sales mix and need to be approached in the right way.”
When it comes to commercial vehicles, SsangYong was keen to use its CV Show stand to highlight the versatility of its range, with Musso pick-up and Rexton SUV showcasing examples of vehicle adaptations that are completed both in-house, and with its conversion partners, ranging from simple racking solutions to comprehensive conversions.
Laird concluded: “In addition to our people, it’s our versatility that gives us one of our greatest competitive advantages. Our size makes us agile and able to respond more rapidly and effectively to client needs than some of our more established competitors. We need to play on that as much as we possibly can.”