Mini boss promises long-awaited corporate attack
20 March 2009
Mini is looking for a 50% rise in its corporate volumes after admitting it has been "rubbish" at understanding how to get the best from the business car market.
"For a lot of fleet business, Mini is a very good car and I don't think we've done enough to promote it to the people who can most benefit," said Mini UK boss Andy Hearn. "Mini is a big retail car and will stay so, but how can we increase the business?"
"We've been rubbish at understanding how to deliver, what product to bring to market. It's not one thing but a host of things, and until we get it right we won't make an impact - we'll just be one of the crowd," Hearn said. "If you talk to me in 12 months' time I'll have a pretty clear idea about where we need to go. You'll see evidence this year of us getting into the corporate market."
Hearn admitted the brand's huge success among retail buyers has meant fleet sales have never been a serious priority.
"If we've got retail customers queuing outside the door and we're saying they can't have a car for two or three months then why cultivate fleet business?" he said. "We probably should have cultivated more fleet business over the last two or three years, it gives us a balance. We'll not go to fleet instead of retail but we need to develop that side of the business.
"There are loads of different options - we haven't scratched the surface in what we can do and what we want to do," said Hearn. "We need to be more visual and active in making it something people want to put on their list. When you look at the people scaling down and reducing emissions, Mini has got a product ready to take advantage of that. We need to make sure user choosers and fleets can see the advantages on Mini - whether it's on the balance sheet or the end user. "
The company is currently evaluating how best to boost its corporate volume. At the moment only 20% of Mini sales are into the business market, and Hearn said he'd be comfortable taking it to 30%: "I want quality corporate to increase by 50% from where it is. I wouldn't have a problem with that looking forward. But there's no point in saying we'll increase corporate by 50% if there is no structure in place to deliver. It's a multi-dimensional thing."
Hearn said the challenge is getting Mini more heavily into the business car marketplace without damaging the seemingly bullet-proof residuals that have seen the brand help itself to the last seven BusinessCar Awards for the supermini segment.
He continued: "We have to protect the RVs because if we got excessive in terms of terms, the RVs would disintegrate. The challenge is to introduce the car to the corporate sector and maintain RVs so we have longevity in terms of our offering.
"We are upping the ante in terms of business users and making sure Mini is in the shop window."
The building into the corporate market comes 18 months ahead of Mini's most relevant fleet model. Currently codenamed R60, the 4x4-hatchback crossover will be the firm's largest and most practical model when it arrives in October.
"The R60 will give us a real focus on what we can do with the fleet market. Our offering at the moment is appealing but only to a certain type of customer," said Hearn.