Miloš Stefanović : Excellent years for JLR Adria

The plan to implement a new program called the Adria Diplomatic Program, intended for diplomats residing in the countries of our region, was prepared to support this fact. 

We are on an upward trajectory as far as many factors are concerned, including the profitability of manufacturer, distributors and, of course, retail partners, says Miloš Stefanović, Regional Director – Jaguar Land Rover Adria, for Diplomacy&Commerce Croatia.  We are very proud of the Adria Diplomatic Program, which represents an additional effort to provide diplomats in the Adria region with a faster, easier, and more personalized way of purchasing and maintaining JLR vehicles, Stefanović explains. For our magazine exclusively, he also reveals the secrets of good leaders, which, among other things, include constant changes, transitions, new things, solutions, the use of new technologies, involvement in new projects, and in his case, above all, cars.

Jaguar Land Rover Adria has the following regional countries under its jurisdiction: Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo. How would you rate the business results for the entire region over the past year? Is there a crisis in the automobile market?
As for JLR in the region and, as a wider perspective globally, the past year has been extremely interesting. In terms of classic business results, KPIs, planned vs. realized targets, we had an excellent year – both calendar year and our JLR fiscal year, which ended on March 31. I must emphasize that our brands have been in the process of transitioning from premium to (modern) luxury for more than a year. Being part of that transition, having the opportunity to implement new standards and programs, new technologies and solutions is very interesting.

Given the fact that you cover countries that are members of the EU and have more regulated markets, and those that are not, what differences in business operations would you highlight, and what brings them together?
The region covered by my team is very specific, as everyone from this area is familiar with. As you stated, we have EU and NON-EU countries, and then each market has a lot of specific characteristics, even though it may not seem so at first glance. Of course, with Slovenia and Croatia as EU member states, it is much easier operationally. As we go further south, we enter the complexity of the Adria region. Trade agreements, customs, taxes, legislation… I will give you a practical example of the driverassistance system that we are currently dealing with: Traffic sign recognition works in one country, but stops working at the border with another country, mainly due to legislation. Also, we have the peculiarities of each market in terms of models and their specifications, client requirements and financing. Some of our partners are receiving their car or spare part in just 2 days from our warehouse, while others are waiting for more than ten days because we have three borders and about 1000 kilometers to get to them. What I am trying to say is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but each market and partner is approached separately and tailormade solutions are being applied. This can be quite challenging and time-consuming, but it’s also fulfilling and gives us great pleasure when we find a solution and agree upon an efficient work.

This year, JLR Adria plans to implement a new program called the Adria Diplomatic Program, intended for diplomats residing in the countries of our region. What are the specifics and what exactly are your plans within the scope of that program?
We are very proud on this program. It represents an additional effort to provide diplomats in our region with a faster, easier, and more personalized way of purchasing and maintaining JLR vehicles. Yes, they can get their car through Global Diplomatic Sales, but here we try to give additional value besides just a special price. We have planned the program in several stages, where we will improve and add services every year. This year, our focus is getting to know our potential clients, educating them about the basics of the program, and promoting the program itself. The advantages that I would immediately point out are access to the central Adria vehicle stock, short delivery time, personalized approach with Diplomatic Sales Executive in our team, quick response to every inquiry. We are currently working with our partners to improve logistics and priority reception in the service, as well as home delivery. Also, vehicle maintenance can already start at the client’s door. With the Pick- Up & Redelivery Service, we pick up the vehicle and return it to the address chosen by the client. This service is already a standard service for all JLR customers.

Bearing your clients in mind when we talk about the brands you represent, their luxury and refinement, what do the numbers in thefield tell us? Which brands stand out and why? What your customers like the most?
To sum it up in one sentence, the numbers in the field show the effort put into this. I think we are doing a perfect job of brand transitioning. We are achieving the planned goals, increasing the market share in most markets, and continuously working to ensure that our brands remain desired and in demand. Here I would briefly explain the new Modern Luxury strategy, according to which our brands are now distinguished into “houses”. The House of Brands philosophy puts the uniqueness of each brand in the foreground by dividing them into four houses: Range Rover, Defender, Discovery and Jaguar. This allows us to recognize the peculiarities  and support the clients of each house, their specificities, wishes, lifestyle habits and needs. Speaking about models, I would spotlight the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport as the highlight of the range. These are extremely desired vehicles. The personalization options are endless, so most clients want to wait for their unit, assembled according to their wishes and needs. The Defender is my favorite JLR model. Year after year, it records sales growth, even though it has been around for a couple of years. This is a modernday hero that respects the past, but at the same time heralds the future. A rare car on the market with a special character. The range of the Defender buyers is incredible, and I’d say everyone loves it. Or if not everyone, it certainly leaves absolutely no one indifferent.

As a leader, how important is investing in your employees and how do you take care of your people?
Every business and every company begins and ends with people. If you really think like that, you know and understand what empathy means, you are already a good leader in my book. We often forget that we spend more time with the people we work with than with family members and friends. In our company, we nurture an informal culture, we encourage employees to be creative, to take initiative, and we
support and empower them. We don’t look at the watch too much, but we rather value efficiency and, of course, the results. The energy between people is very important and I think that all of us in the importer office have very similar energies and understanding of the business. Employees can pop out during working hours and finish their private affairs, take a child to the doctor or – if they feel under the weather – just take the day off. When they are trusted, people will reciprocate, there is no need to worry about that. Two days a week, they can work from anywhere (home office), and we also offer a progressive vacation system according to the time spent in the company. We continuously invest in employees, and in their development. They can influence the course of education and training and we try to introduce additional benefits every year. They can progress within the team or move to one of the sister companies from our group. No one would take this against them, but quite the opposite, we encourage them to do so. I am proud of the fact that I am close with every team member, and that my door is literally always open to everyone.

You have been in leading managerial positions in the auto industry for a long time. What drives you in your work and what motivates you for further progress? Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
The work I do must be challenging and dynamic to drive and motivate me. I love changes, transitions, new things, solutions, technologies, new projects and, above all, cars. This is what my current job and position enable me to do every day. The people I work with, and I work for, partners… in general, relationships with people are something that fascinates me and moves me from a sociological point of view. I like an organized system with a nice dose of improvisation when needed,  creative people, people who think for themselves and are not afraid of their thoughts and ideas. In general, the automotive world is in a very interesting period. I still see myself in the automotive industry. I am very interested in current market trends and the reactions of all of us in the chain. I am not thinking about changing the position until the final implementation of the new strategy and the transformation of the brands. After that, you never know, maybe another challenging market or a continent.