Besides surveying several thousand service customers, in the past six months we’ve held 18 focus groups with these folks. We asked them what they read, how they make decisions, what they think, and where they go. They read electronic media and tend to use their handhelds for this. They rely on advice from friends and family. They go to Yelp and Google to read reviews from strangers. They think dealers are impersonal and expensive. And, they go to “My Guy”, whoever their guy really is, to get their vehicle serviced. They trust their “My Guy” implicitly – see more here . Months of focused research, and it really reduced down to something this simple. In the 90’s I remember how the industry embraced the complexity of dealer operations with multi-million dollar process reengineering and television commercials of actors throwing car keys around the dealership like Harlem Globetrotters. Well that crap sure didn’t work.
Hyundai’s Frank Ferrara, one of my heroes, asked me to talk to a large group of his service managers about “My Guy.” I had to make a choice. Did I go for “all 5s” and feed them some pabulum stirred up for the masses? Or, did I feel lucky? Hit them with the proof behind my very simple story – you know, the charts and raw data. I asked around and was cautioned that dealer groups do not like dense charts with too many small words. They wanted everything digested and bottom-lined. I ignored this advice and took a chance. After the presentation Frank got back to me with this. “As far as your presentation is concerned, as always it was content rich which was difficult for some in the audience to digest in 1 hour. Many, many of the service managers told me they took 6 to 8 pages of notes. This is amazing to me because they are never in the note taking mode.”
One of the service managers asked me to call him back to discuss his take on the evolution of service customers. We spent nearly an hour talking. I learned that dealer service managers are very smart, entrepreneurial, and operate by a very different rulebook. I also learned that I had a lot more to learn. I’m going to be honest with you; any satisfaction score less than “very satisfied” hits me in the gut like a Joe Frazier left hook. The dealers were even more strongly receptive to my message than the others sitting in the room. Dealer service managers get it. They understand evolving customer attitudes and the value of “My Guy.” Because they are there, day in and day out. It is no secret that their world is changing as a consequence of this. They know that it is a huge priority for the OEMs and for their business models. They speak our language…perhaps better than we do.
We do not need to bring out our process mappers and corporate change management guidelines. We don’t need to bring our agencies into the loop. We don’t need to brainstorm more globetrotter trickery to sell ideas that are birthed and launched in the cold vacuum of corporate inner space.
Bottom Line: We need to directly involve our dealer service managers in the architecture of becoming “My Guys” and better competing in the market for service customers. We need to de-brand the basic processes simply because there is such incredible movement across the brands by the folks who make it happen. If we want to throw keys around the dealership we need to understand that inside one year that same cast of characters might now be a Chevy guy throwing to a Ford guy, who tosses to a Toyota guy, who dunks it to a Hyundai guy, who lays it up to a BMW gal. We intend to launch a My Guy summit in the spring of 2012 that will consist of the top three service managers from a selection of multiple franchises. For three days, we will take them through the data and then figure out what to do…that works and is sustainable. No key tosses; just focusing on the keys to success in our brave new world. How to become and stay “My Guy.”
We will accommodate a maximum of seven sponsoring brands with the My Guy Summit. Beyond these sponsoring brands, we will solicit the best of the best dealer service managers outside the sponsor group. We intend to permit strategic suppliers as sponsors. The summit will be a dealer-only crowd with no sponsoring corporate observers present. All sponsors get the full-unexpurgated results in whatever form they need to make change. If you are interested, please contact Robert Desel - firstname.lastname@example.org.