10 mai 23

MA5, the consulting ‘supergroup’ that adds value to your used-vehicle business

You could call them the Traveling Wilburys of the remarketing industry: four expert consultants who got together to found a supergroup. Its name? MA5 Used Vehicle Consulting. Its mission? Helping automotive organisations set up, strengthen and transform their used-vehicle operations. It all officially kicks off in May. And in a budget-friendly manner. “Our core focus is adding value, not selling days”, says Silvio Grandelis.

Grandelis (Italian/Dutch, pictured left) is one of the four ‘Wilburys’. The others are Johan Verbois (Belgian, second from left) and Ian Wright (second from right) and Mike Foden (right), two Brits. Each has their own focus within the new organization, which has been gearing up ahead of its official launch in May, but “the sum is greater than the parts.” Fleet Europe sat down for a talk with the foursome. 

Johan, we know you as a Remarketing Expert for Fleet Europe, and as the founder of your own 5S Consulting firm. Why this new initiative?

“Because it allows us to focus on the various strategic areas that are crucial in today’s remarketing industry. Rapid change over the last years has seen an increase in uncertainty regarding used vehicles and residual values (RVs). Meanwhile, the industry is struggling to adapt to a new powertrain mix, to changing distribution methods, and to the impact all this has on the customer journey.”

“Those are the areas we want to focus on with MA5. We could do much more, but we want to develop our expertise and keep our edge in these domains, which are crucial. This is confirmed by the growing number of consulting requests we get. Also globally, as our European expertise is valued around the world. That’s because Europe is the centre and leader of this change, with its mix of pure online players versus traditional distributors, with its range of EV adoption rates, and the market entry of entirely new players.”

Ian, why specifically these four consultants?

“Because we’ve known each other for many years and we’ve come to value each other’s expertise. We’ve worked together as colleagues. We’ve consulted for each other or on common projects. If you add up our careers, we’ve worked at Dealers, Dealer Groups, Importers, OEM headquarters, Service Providers, and Lease Companies. That’s a lot of experience across a broad spectrum of the used-vehicle industry. To use a cliché: the sum is greater than the parts!”

Mike, how does the global aspect of this partnership work, exactly?

“We have plenty of global experience. Between us, we’ve worked in more than 60 countries. Ian is just back from Panama, and Johan leaves for Australia later this month. However, to grow sustainably, we’re contracting with associate partners, who complement the four founding partners in terms of language skills and geographical presence. Some examples: we now have a partner in Australia, and another one who covers the Spanish-speaking world.”

“Additionally, we work with many of the great consultants and trainers we come across – people who have an operational background and who share our passion. We contract with them on a project basis. For example, we’ve just finished a used-trucks training in multiple European countries – each delivered in the local language by our partners.”

“Although MA5 has a flat structure, we all have focus areas. One of mine is organizational, so I manage contracts and partners. But we work very hard at keeping an edge in our joint expertise. That’s why we have those focus areas, but also bi-weekly meetings in which we share our findings.”

Silvio, can you tell me a bit about the services you provide?

“Everything the customer needs to reach their goal! Typically, our customers want to set up, analyse, transform or strengthen parts of their used-vehicle business, whether it’s operations, certified programmes, RV management or remarketing processes. We use a range of tools to get there: consulting, coaching, training, auditing and mystery shopping. That sounds fairly traditional, but the difference is in our combined expertise, which is a unique feature of MA5. As certified trainers for various brands and ISO-certified coaches, we are able to steer our project coaches and trainers to achieve the desired outcome.”

“Another distinguishing feature is that we don’t want to create enormous projects, eating up huge amounts of work hours. Our first priority is delivering the desired results in a budget-friendly manner. We don’t want our clients to need our constant consulting. That sounds a bit strange, but our core focus is on adding value, not selling days.”

Ian, those rapid changes Johan talked about – what’s your take on their effects on the industry?

“We need more attention on the customer journey. Twenty years ago, it was pretty straightforward: every customer went through the same linear journey, which ended with a sale in the showroom. Today, customers can enter the process at every step, from different directions, and with various levels of knowledge. Learn to manage that, and you’ll be successful.”

“Too many people are still talking about if or when the customer will be ready to buy online. But it’s not about if or when; it’s about managing the transition that is happening – more and more consumers are ready to buy online. However, in our regular benchmarks of used-vehicle websites or certified programmes, we see that while some organisations are handling the transition very pro-actively, many others are still in the debating phase, or worse, in denial.”

Mike, what are the challenges presented by the powertrain transition?

“The impact of electrification is felt throughout many areas, including B2B, B2C, transport, compound management, etcetera. However, the ramp-up to electrification is different in each country, which makes things even more difficult. Designing a clear road map defines the priorities and how companies need to evolve. We’ve learned that the sequence of a well-designed road map generally doesn’t change; it’s only the timing that should be reviewed regularly. That works well within our agile framework of bi-weekly assessments whether planning needs to be adapted.”

Silvio, did you want to add something?

“Yes. Mystery shopping shows that at almost every customer touchpoint, the BEV buying process has not yet been optimised. We’ve witnessed that salespeople do not support the used BEV customer as they do a new BEV customer. That is not good for the customer experience, or for electrification in general. So, skills and knowledge need to be upgraded. This is an ongoing process. If brands want to protect their EVs, optimizing the used BEV sales process is critical.”

"Residual Values are even more important for BEVs than for ICEs"', says Johan Verbois (pictured).

Johan, RVs are surely one of your focus points?

“Indeed. With the gradual move from ownership to usage, the monthly holding cost (for the various players) or the monthly rate (for customers) is a crucial factor. The key driver for this factor is Residual Value – and even more so for BEVs than for ICEs. And small differences can have large consequences. For the 10 largest players in the market, a one percentage point difference in RVs translates into a difference in results of more than €100 million.”

“With RVs this crucial, it’s important to understand that almost everyone within the distribution chain has an impact on the future resale value of a car. So they must be knowledgeable and skilled enough to understand that impact, and manage their decisions in the best possible way.”

Gentlemen, thank you for your time, and best of luck with your endeavours!

Author : David Baudeweyns

Images: Sacha Kleinblatt / MA5