Vancouver’s Signature Mazda: The third biggest Mazda dealership in Canada

Marko Joannou is General Manager and Dealer Principle of Signature Mazda Vancouver in The Canadian Business Quarterly
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Located in the number one Auto Mall in North America, Signature Mazda Vancouver is one of the premier dealerships in Richmond, BC, having built a reputation for quality customer service, transparency, honesty and value. 

Marko Joannou is General Manager and Dealer Principal of Signature Mazda Vancouver. During his time working with Richport Ford in the mid-90s, Mr Joannou was recognized as one of the top 2% of Ford Motor company sales consultants in the world. In 2000, he was promoted to manage the sales department for Signature Mazda, which quickly ranked as the number one Mazda dealership in Western Canada, and one of the top 25 globally. In 2016, Mr Joannou acquired Signature Mazda along with his partners Deryl Griffith and Vikki Kazakoff. He spoke to us recently about his beginnings working with the Mazda brand, the success he has seen while managing the dealership, and the shifts in consumer behaviors that are changing the automobile landscape.

Grand performer

“Signature Mazda is a Vancouver-based automotive dealership,” Mr Joannou says, “located in the Richmond Auto Mall, [which] was actually rated by J.D. Power and Associates as the best Auto Mall in North America.”

Signature Mazda normally delivers in excess of 1,700 vehicles per year, which is typically comprised of around 1,000-1,200 new cars, and 600-700 used. Mr Joannou admits that the aim in 2021 is to push the total number up to 2,000.

“Currently, we rank as the third biggest dealership in the country for Mazda Canada, with more than 50 employees. We’ve achieved awards such as the [Mazda] Grand Performer and Dealer of Distinction, which we’ve won multiple years in a row.”

Signature Mazda editorial image in the Canadian Business Quarterly
Signature Mazda Vancouver is one of the premier dealerships in Richmond, BC, having built a reputation for quality customer service, transparency, honesty and value

Mr Joannou’s involvement with Mazda began through his relationship with the previous dealer, who purchased the dealership in Richmond Auto Mall in late 2000. Since then, the dealership has continued to grow impressively.

“I have the pleasure of being the President of the Mazda Canada Dealer Association, so that’s given me the ability to give some extra vision into the operations. [Mazda] is truly an amazing brand, and we’re very passionate about it.”

There are currently 164 Mazda dealerships in Canada. In the past, other Japanese brands were Mazda’s main competitors, but Mazda’s move into a space that is considered alternative to premium has put it in competition with high-end giants like Audi, Land Rover and BMW.

“One of the great strong points of Japanese brands is their high resale value,” Mr Joannou explains, “as [automotive analysts] ALG will confirm for us. The consumer reports just this year rated Mazda as the highest quality automotive product on the globe.”

Mazda has redefined the way the automotive experience works. Establishments such as Signature Mazda are no longer defined as dealerships, but as clubhouses, offering a five star customer service experience that differentiates them from their competition.

“Our vehicles are so well-made, we barely see any warranty work coming through the doors of our dealerships, so that speaks volumes to the quality of the product. Typically, urban centers do very well with products like this, where quality is paramount.”

Mazda’s racing heritage still has a big impact on the brand’s image, with an executive team in Japan spending almost every weekend on the track to improve the driving experience of its vehicles.

“Today, we find ourselves in a place where we see responsible buyers. They want to purchase vehicles that are good for the environment – fuel efficient, low carbon output. Today’s consumers don’t look at vehicles the way they did years ago. They’re more like cellphones; they’re disposable. Vehicles today are more like technology, rather than cars.”

Signature Mazda editorial image in The Canadian Business Quarterly
With high standards of quality and value, Signature Mazda Vancouver has more than earned its place as a top dealer

The industry has come a long way in a short amount of time. This can be seen in the most recent safety standards, with there being around 50% better safety efficiency in today’s vehicles than those being manufactured five years ago.

“We have a very changing landscape, and so consumers today are more conscious of that. [There will be changes in] the buying habits of Canadians, and where the Japanese brands are going to play versus the other players in the marketplace, and of course how the Electric Vehicle craze is going to go in the future, such as the rise of Tesla.”

In the past, other Japanese brands were Mazda’s main competitors, but Mazda’s move into a space that is considered alternative to premium has put it in competition with high-end giants like Audi, Land Rover and BMW

Today’s consumers want to own vehicles responsibly, over a shorter period of time, with the ability to pivot and adapt to new technologies. Electric Vehicles are one key example, along with hybrids and vehicles that are hydrogen based.

“The two ingredients of success to us are to be humble and to be hungry,” Mr Joannou concludes. “We truly believe that the reason for our success is our people. We have a tremendous staff here at Signature Mazda, and of course the consumers who have recognized the efforts and give us the chance to earn their business on a daily basis. That’s really what differentiates us from the rest. We’re very grateful to have that opportunity.”

With high standards of quality and value, Signature Mazda Vancouver has more than earned its place as a top dealer. Find out more about Signature Mazda by visiting www.signaturemazda.com/en.

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The Canadian Business Quarterly (The CBQ) provides an in-depth view of business and economic development issues taking place across the country. Featuring interviews with top executives, government policy makers and prominent industry bodies The CBQ examines the news beyond the headlines to uncover the drivers of local, provincial, and national affairs.

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