Franchised dealers are becoming notably less satisfied with their manufacturer’s finance programme, the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) summer attitude survey has revealed.

The overall score from across all brands fell from 7.0 out of 10 in the winter to just 6.6 in the summer. This marked a further drop from the average 7.2 score given in the summer 2016 survey.

A number of brands experienced hard falls in total score. BMW, which topped the charts in the winter with an average score of 8.9 fell to a still above average score of 7.3, while Ford, Vauxhall and Nissan all also experienced a notable decline in satisfaction between the two surveys.

Only two brands had their dealers score their finance partner above an 8.0 on this question. Mercedes dealers were the most satisfied with the finance programme, with an average score of 8.2 (down from 8.5). The only other brand to score above 8.0 was Kia, whose dealers gave an average score of 8.1 (down from 8.3).

It was a similar story when dealers were asked how satisfied they were with the reasonableness of the finance penetration and renewal targets set by the manufacturer. For this question the score fell from 6.7 in the winter to just 6.3.

Notable fallers for this question included Peugeot, whose dealers gave an average score of just 5.9 – down 2.0 points from the winter score of 7.9.

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By GlobalData

Mercedes dealers were the most satisfied in this category, with an average score of 8.5 – the same score they gave in the winter survey.

The trends were similar for the questions regarding underwriting standards and customer service (down from 7.2 to 6.9) and around the earning potential from finance programme (down from 6.2 to 5.9).

The fall in dealer satisfaction around manufacturer finance offerings came among a general fall in dealer satisfaction.

Sue Robinson, director of the NFDA said: “The overall relationship between franchised car dealers and manufacturers recorded an average score of 5.6* in the Summer 2017 Dealer Attitude Survey, which is -0.5 points down from the last survey and -0.6 lower than the same time last year.”

Outside of finance, Kia dealers were the most satisfied group, with an average score of 9.2. Mercedes dealers were second, at 9.0.

Robinson continued, “The Summer 2017 survey had an encouraging response rate, with considerably increased response return from smaller dealerships, highlighting the importance of the survey for both dealers and manufacturers enabling them to monitor and evaluate the health of their relationship.

“The results of the survey show that external factors might have put a strain on the dealer-manufacturer relationship. However, despite the substantial decline in the average score of the manufacturer rating question, more than 60 per cent of the dealer networks surveyed returned a score above the neutral point of 5.0.

“Although average scores across the majority of the questions have generally declined, some networks continued to perform well following recent success and others showed significant improvements. Notably, Kia reached the first place in the all-important question and Audi recorded the highest increase in score across all the questions of the survey.

“In a period of uncertainty where a coordinated and combined approach is needed to deal with a number of important issues currently facing the industry, it is vital that manufacturers and dealers continue to work together to safeguard the interests of the automotive sector.”