Audi of America's six-year string of consecutive year-over-year monthly sales gains may grab headlines, but it is other industry-leading numbers associated with the luxury brand that turn dealer heads, says U.S. brand boss Scott Keogh.
For instance, 76: That's the percentage of Audi owners who have spent money within the last 12 months in an Audi dealership after seven years of ownership.
Or 1 billion: That's both the amount of dollars that Audi's 293 dealers have already invested in their stores over the last six years, and the amount they plan to spend through 2020.
Or 1: the spot Audi finished in the 2016 J.D. Power rankings of customer satisfaction with dealer service.
"The thing we are fanatically focused on is getting our dealers to scale and getting them the throughput" that they need for profitability, Keogh said during an interview at the Detroit auto show this month. "We still think there are opportunities to grow because we have the product portfolio that's coming, plus we're still underleveraged in a number of markets."
Audi sales finished 2016 up 4 percent in the U.S. to 210,213 in a luxury market that declined 0.7 percent, without including Audi's gains, and dropped 0.2 percent with them. But that won't mean adding retail points beyond a few existing underserved markets, Keogh said.
"I don't think we need a host of more dealers to get to where we want to go strategically," Keogh said. Dealerships opening in new regions have low sales and low market share, he said. "That dealer needs time to cultivate the market, earn his power in the market and his or her reputation in the market, and then away we go."
Keogh said that weakness in the luxury segments overall is squeezing dealer profitability, which must be addressed.
"Let's not be naive; the market has tightened, and anytime a market has tightened, that is going to put compression on margins," he said. Audi can do its part by not overproducing new cars, but there are other revenue options that can be tapped, such as fixed operations and certified pre-owned sales, he said.
Audi has been able to grow in a declining luxury market because of its expanding product lineup and the investments dealers made into improving their stores and customer service, he said.
But what really helps get customers to return is when dealers fix problems correctly the first time, he added.
"This is not money; this is just really good training," Keogh said.
For example, Audi is using innovative technologies to help dealership techs resolve difficult service problems more quickly. ART -- Audi Robotic Telepresence -- incorporates a tablet computer with a camera that allows a dealership's tech to show an Audi master technician at the company's corporate offices the problem. The technology has increased Audi's fixed-right-first-time rate, as well as decreased the amount of time customers are in loaner vehicles, which lowers costs, Keogh explained.
"It's just smart stuff -- reducing cycle time, getting cars fixed right the first time, good clean showrooms, better hospitality," Keogh said. "This is all the stuff that we're doing."