How Are You Protecting Your Brand?Written By: Ron Slee
Article Date: 03-01-2006
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
It's the primary reason customers keep coming back.
Who are we? This opens up an interesting discussion in parts and service departments. Who are we really? In discussions with parts and service managers, I am always surprised when they struggle to explain what it is they do. I normally try and get groups to consider reducing owning and operating costs as their primary responsibility and protecting the residual value of the machines as secondary. But when I ask questions about their brands, the confused looks really tell a story. I understand the importance of the equipment lines you represent and the support you receive from suppliers in product development, parts, transportation logistics, training, tooling, design of facilities, etc. But you also have a "brand" in the marketplace.
Your brand is:
At your next parts or service training session, ask each person to make a list of the things the dealer does for the customer over and above the delivery of a part or a labor hour. It's a great exercise. When you take the time to think about it, you can come up with a significant list. When you're going about the rigors of your job, it's not so obvious.
- the primary reason customers keep coming back
- the caring dedicated people that work in your dealership
- the investment the owners have made in facilities, vehicles, tooling and inventories
- the sales and marketing approaches used to satisfy your customers
- the financing options that facilitate opportunities for your customers to develop their businesses.
Here are some items to get you started on your list.
24/7 service. Is this something you think about often? Is it something you let your customers know about? Does someone take a laptop computer home to connect to the dealership's computer to determine price and availability if a customer requests either after hours?
A credit facility. Do you provide open accounts for your customers? Many of you do. Compare this to your local car dealerships. Can you pick up your car or truck from the dealer without paying for repairs or maintenance? Do you have the dealer send you a bill for parts you need?
Convenient store locations. How many stores do you have? How does that compare to the competition? Can your customers get to your stores in a couple of hours or less?
Factory-trained technicians. Your dealership spends a lot of money providing technical training to your mechanics. How well does your competition know the machinery you sell and support?
Parts returns. It costs a lot of money to take back parts that were ordered in error. How many of your competitors offer this service to their customers?
Your dealer brand is critical.
Everyone who touches a customer must be aware of all of the things you do in the marketplace for your customers. It should be on the tip of their tongues.
It's not a big thing, but recognizing everything that you do provides each employee with a sense of pride and confidence. It develops an aura of confidence and competence in each of them. This creates employee satisfaction and loyalty, which shows itself to your customers as service value. And this is the part of the service profit chain that develops customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Are you protecting your brand?
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