An Exclusive Interview with Voeung Seng, General Manager Ford Division at RMA Cambodia
During an unprecedented time, with global demand for cars affected by wide-spread mobility restrictions, Cambodia stood out in APDM with soaring unit sale numbers and holding its 1st car brand position for the fourth consecutive year. With a 40.4% market share in Cambodia and almost 1,000 units sold in February 2021 alone, we caught up with Voeung Seng, General Manager Ford Division RMA (Cambodia), to better understand the secret behind his team’s amazing success, also crowned this year with the President’s Award.
Ford: Voeung, please tell us what the secret behind your extraordinary success is.
Voeung: Our success hasn’t happened overnight, and it’s not always been smooth sailing. It’s taken us 21 years to get to 5,000 units sold a year today. We’ve grown slowly but steadily, together with the market and our customers. It’s been a very exciting journey to have grown the business to this level, especially during such difficult and unprecedented times!
Dream big and invest in people
Ford: What makes Cambodia unique in the APDM region?
Voeung: Our uniqueness stems from two key points: our team’s ambition and belief in our vision and continuous investment in our people.
When I started with RMA, 21 years ago, we didn’t have a showroom, only some brochures, and we only sold 2 units a year. What we did have was a clear ambition to make Ford the no.1 car brand in Cambodia and I believed very strongly in the power of the Ford brand. Nobody knew what branding was back then.
Everything we did was aligned to our long-term strategy. Our market segmentation was very strategic. We started with the low hanging fruit and built our way up. We always had the big picture in mind and continued to stay focused on the branding and clear marketing objectives. For example, we were the first ones to organize a motor show. That was something completely new for the market. We also designed our sales team purposefully to fit this strategy.
And that brings me to our people. Our key differentiator from the competition is our people. Our currently people strategy was born years back, when a competitor entered the market and hired many of our then employees. We had to change our strategy and plan a clear direction, so we recruited 20 fresh graduates and we developed an intensive bespoke training programme to create a motivated, high-performing team. Today, we continue to invest in our people more than any of our competitors. We encourage our 70 sales representatives to take initiative and ownership for their ideas. Our people are extremely passionate about what they do. They simply love the Ford brand.
Superior customer service and community support
Ford: Tell us more about your customer-centric principles and how you involve customers in becoming true brand champions for Ford.
Voeung: Our unparalleled customer-centric strategy means we always listen to our customers and take care of them as if they were our family. This belief helps us build long-term relationships, and our customers often become influential Ford brand champions within their communities or ‘red dots’, helping us grow our client database and brand love.
Ford: Please tell us more about the community activities you organize in the provinces.
Voeung: The community activities are very important for our brand here in Cambodia. One of the most popular activities are our 5-day roadshows in the provinces. The team visits high foot-traffic places in the city and surrounding areas and invites people to the booth. They also identify potential influential people, or ‘red dots’, and invite them for dinner. These ‘red dots’, respected and well-known in their communities, also invite people from their community circles. This not only increases their status, but also helps promote the Ford brand.
The Customer Benefit and Loyalty Programme is another great source of success. Started in 2007, it has been driven by our philosophy that the moment a customer buys a car is only the beginning of our relationship. Our customers may change cars, but they always change to another Ford nameplate.
We also offer support to our communities. For example, we donate vehicles to technical training schools and work with them to introduce new training courses in the Government curriculum. This not only helps increase brand awareness in the market but also ensures the new generations of technicians are highly trained. Our MOU with the technical schools gives us the opportunity to recruit the top 10 technicians once they graduate. They will work as trainees at our workshop and we subsequently employ them to work with Ford or our outside service centers, ensuring we have highly qualified partners at these centers. This is all part of our long-term strategy. This and other CSR activities show our communities that we are happy to give back to the community, which creates a lot of good will for the Ford brand.
Extensive Service Network
Ford: Building on the importance of customer relationship and after-sales, could you share with us more details on the service business, how it’s different from your competitors, and also about your newly opened service facility in Phnom Penh?
Voeung: We are the only distributor who gives our customers the opportunity to complain. When a customer logs a complaint, we always listen – we invite them to tell us more about it over dinner, and design a strategy to solve the issue and insure we eliminate such issues in the future. Once we understand what their problems are, we can achieve higher customer satisfaction. When they love the product, our customers become advocates.
We are also the only brand to offer 24/7 free road assistance, as well as a mobile workshop to support our customers and get them back on the road with peace of mind. To increase customer service, we have also developed our own Ford Cambodia mobile application, where customers can easily find the nearest service center. Our facilities are in areas with the largest number of Ford customers, and we also operate with the support of 18 outside service centers in the provinces, to offer increased convenience.
Ford: Can you please tell us more about the Ranger business in Cambodia?
Voeung: Ranger is the number one pick-up brand in Cambodia today. One of the main selling points is, of course, the safety features, around which we have delivered clear and consistent messaging. However, we applied the Blue Ocean Strategy when thinking about further growth and ensuring Ranger remains top preference in our market. Therefore, we have started to drive our customers to upgrade from Wilktrak to Raptor as we currently don't have any competitors in this segment. This has indeed proven a smart growth strategy, our Raptor sales almost matching the Wildtrak ones, Ranger maintaining its position of number one pick-up truck in Cambodia.
Ford: can you tell us more about your future plans for Cambodia in 2021 and beyond?
Voeung: We plan to open two or three new outlets in Cambodia and in Phnom Penh, we plan to open two more independent workshops in strategic locations, with build-up of traffic in the future city center, to increase capacity of customer absorption.
Ford: Thank you very much, Voeung!
Voeung: Thank you for this opportunity to share our success here in Cambodia! The key to any successful partnership is the ability of the two partners to listen and support each other. And that’s exactly how our collaboration with Ford has been. Ford has always offered their full support, empowering us to better compete in our market.