We speak to Michelle Pretorius, national pre-owned/fleet operations manager of Renault SA.
In early 2006 Renault embarked on an international improvement plan, Commitment 2009, involving every Renault operation worldwide.
After extensive market research around the world and including SA, the Renault Encore programme was launched to build a strong pre-owned brand image to position Renault as a benchmark in the used car market.
The decision to lend more emphasis to used vehicles was prompted by the recognition that the sale of used vehicles is essential for a healthy trading situation in a dealership.
A dealership can only operate as a Renault Encore outlet once all the minimum operating standards have been met. Already 25 dealers have received this status and more approved Renault Encore dealers will be appointed during 2007.
"The standards have been designed to ensure that each Renault Encore dealer operates a used vehicle business in a sound and structured manner, with the required focus on the Renault brand and the commitment to provide the Renault used vehicle buyer with the level of product quality, customer experience and after-sales care that Renault promises worldwide," says Pretorius.
Other benefits include a 30-day exchange programme in case the customer is not entirely satisfied with the vehicle, and the customer can also purchase an optional service and warranty plan.
Only Renault vehicles with less than 100 000 km and not older than five years are eligible for the programme. Such units undergo a process that includes a 101-point mechanical and body inspection, a full service, roadworthy, full internal and external valet as well as body and paint refurbishment.
Renault Encore buyers are entitled to a free annual safety check of the vehicle for two years. This check can be performed at any authorised Renault dealer.
One of the aims of the company?s global Commitment 2009 programme is to ensure sales and after-sales quality. To meet these demands, Renault Global has conducted major international surveys to determine customer expectations.
The aim is to offer the same standards of service worldwide, incorporating prompt responses, clear information and the permanent availability of vehicles for test-drives.
A Renault Academy of Training was established a year ago in Paris to serve as a global platform from where the training of sales personnel and repair technicians will be standardised, with the aim of establishing Renault as a worldwide leader in quality service. SA has sent trainers to this academy and they in turn train SA technicians.
To check on progress, Renault Global is already conducting extensive surveys, polling the opinions of thousands of new car buyers and clients needing after-sales service. In 2006 alone, some 2 500 mystery customer surveys had been conducted at more than 400 dealerships and 900 after-sales outlets worldwide, including some in SA.
A major action in the strategy is the introduction of an after-sales care programme to ensure peace of mind for all Renault owners.
This programme, known as 'Renault Confiance', addresses eight key areas for building customer confidence - warranty, maintenance, roadside assistance, personal safety in the event of breakdowns, competitive pricing and the availability of spare parts, and the provision of a courtesy car in specified circumstances.
Additional Confiance aspects also include public display of fixed price menus for scheduled services, and an encompassing provision of prompt and efficient customer care.
The Confiance package applies to all vehicles under the manufacturer warranty and extended warranty contracts.