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Alfa Romeo builds for the future

Lucky clover: Alfa’s next star, the Giulia Cloverleaf, is expected to be unveiled at the brand’s 105th birthday in June.

Alfa resurgence to rely on 4C, other new models but retail, customer issues also key

17 Feb 2015

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles is laying the groundwork for Alfa Romeo’s resurgence in Australia, working on dealer and customer operations and improved internal company procedures as the first wave of brand-enhancing new models arrive this week in the form of the 4C sportscar and Giulietta QV hot hatch.

There are other models on the way, with the Giulia Cloverleaf high-performance sedan expected to be unveiled at the Italian brand’s 105th birthday celebrations in June, along with a host of other all-new models outlined by FCA last year spanning premium compact, medium, large and potentially top-end supercar segments, as well as two SUV categories.

FCA Australia’s recently appointed president and CEO Pat Dougherty and director of sales Bob Graczyk were not prepared to discuss future models this week, preferring to instead point to improvements in backroom procedures and dealer relations as cornerstones of Alfa Romeo’s comeback in Australia.

“We want to make sure that all this new product that comes in is represented correctly in our dealerships,” Mr Graczyk said.

“We’ll be working with our dealers over the next couple of years to make sure that their dealerships are in line with exactly the way we expect Alfa Romeo to go in the future.”

Mr Graczyk said there were net gains to be made across the board at a dealer level, but those improvements would only happen after the first steps were taken at the top level.

“The customer experience is absolutely critical in our business,” he said. “We put a lot of attention on that. It’s one of the focal points that we have not only in our dealerships, but within our central organisation.

“We have to be able to have the parts available to our dealers. We have to provide the training that they need. It’s a joint effort between us and our dealers to make sure that the customer experience is where someone’s who’s buying an Alfa Romeo would expect it to be.

“There's always room for improvement. Quite honestly, the bar is always being raised higher. I think we're very, very competitive at this point, but we can never rest on our laurels.

“We need to continue to strive to be better and better and to do new and unique things that will really separate the Alfa Romeo customer experience from the competition,” he said.

Mr Dougherty added that “our approach to business is changing” but said the group has enjoyed “a strong dealer focus”.

He also pinpointed improvements in the area of inter-business data connectivity across areas such as sales, marketing and customer relationship management, as a priority for the Australian subsidiary“We have some systems in place but they’re not all interconnected,” he said.

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