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Students on a company excursion to Volkswagen Automobile in Leipzig

Studierende beim Gruppenfoto

Die Besuchergruppe aus Schmalkalden mit den beiden Verkaufsleitern Matthias Zundel (1. v.l.) und Thomas Schmidt (9. v.l.) in der Neufahrzeugausstellung von Volkswagen Automobile Leipzig

Students at the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics regularly get an insight into the professional practice of various business sectors as part of excursions: last week, accompanied by their professor Michael Dornieden, they were able to get to know Germany's largest automotive retail group, Volkswagen Group Retail, at one of its locations in Leipzig. The company not only has a Porsche Center, two Audi Centers and three Volkswagen Centers there, but also the largest body and paint center for passenger cars in Central Germany.

The group of visitors from Schmalkalden was impressed right at the start by Matthias Zundel, Head of New Vehicle Sales for the Volkswagen brand, with the economic figures from 2023: "Last year, we sold almost 8,000 new and used vehicles and more than 160,000 workshop hours across all our locations in Leipzig."

Afterwards, under expert guidance, we went from the showroom for new vehicles to the back office areas of parts service, workshop and vehicle preparation. The Volkswagen Center not only keeps a permanent stock of 1,700 spare parts in a special high-bay warehouse for various types of vehicle repairs, but also offers its customers weekday workshop opening hours from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. in two-shift operation. In addition to Volkswagen vehicles from private customers, repairs are also carried out there for major customers such as the police or emergency services. The latter with special time prioritization in the customer order process.

After a tasty lunch, the students had the opportunity to try out the latest Volkswagen models, the ID.7 and the Tiguan, in the delivery hall and talk to a new vehicle salesperson. They learned, for example, that prospective buyers are coming to the dealerships better and better informed and are mostly using internet-based comparison portals from independent third-party providers to find prices. According to the sales consultant, this also has its advantages, as it makes the negotiation process with customers for pricing much more efficient. However: "If we only had to live off the income from new car sales, we would certainly struggle," Zundel later remarked smugly about the business models at the location.

Thomas Schmidt, Head of Used Vehicle Sales, then spoke about the various process steps from trade-in to repair or reconditioning to the resale of used cars. The current Volkswagen Golf 8 is still the top seller, ahead of models such as the Passat or Caddy. Incidentally, Schmidt observes no correlation between age and customer buying behavior.

At the end of the entertaining program of visits in Leipzig, the two sales managers addressed questions prepared by the students in advance. "How could the car dealership hold its own against manufacturers' direct sales models in the age of digitalization?"  "Which buyer groups are the most persistent negotiators?" or "What effects do you see for brand-bound authorized dealers in the new agency sales models for battery-electric vehicles?" were just a few of them.

The students' bus transfer to Volkswagen Automobile Leipzig was largely financed by budget funds from the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics and Professor Dornieden.