Dealers are warming up to Nissan’s new ways

The past few years have been tumultuous for Nissan’s U.S. business. It has struggled with executive turnover, agitated retailers and uninterested customers. But management has worked to improve factory-dealer relations.

In April, Nissan abandoned the controversial stair-step dealer volume bonus, or DVB, program, which used cash awards to incentivize retailers to hit aggressive monthly, quarterly or year-end sales goals.

That strategy had for years rankled Nissan’s retailers, many of whom argued the automaker pushed unrealistic sales targets that fostered a culture of price discounting, diminished resale values and damaged brand reputation.

“For Nissan to drop the DVB program was not easy,” Slade said. “Nissan has always been an objectives-based company.”

But the protest against the sales program had gotten too loud for the brand to ignore.

“We have been hearing loudly and clearly from our national dealer advisory board, from our NADA survey results,” Wheeler said at the time. “It’s very clear that it was time for us to change.”

Nissan has since replaced the program with a bonus plan that rewards dealers for delivering customer service and building brand loyalty.

While Nissan’s policies toward its dealers have historically been “adversarial and intrusive,” the company has adopted a more dealer-friendly attitude lately, according to a dealer who requested anonymity.

“Their new policies are more dealer-centric,” he said. “There’s not as much complexity; there’s more transparency.”

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