The Biz of Pacelinebiz

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A Light Bulb And A Business Lesson

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It's Not You, It's Me

It’s Not You, It’s Me

I recently had a problem with my car.  I was driving to the Silver Comet Trail near my home to ride my bicycle and at a stop light a lady got out of her car and informed me that my stop lights were not working.  I made a mental note to add that to my ever-growing to do list and I thanked her and went on my no longer merry way.

When I got back from my ride I put a note on my bathroom mirror to call for an appointment to get my lights fixed.  This is the part of the story where it begins to get interesting.  I remembered that this car had a recall that arrived in the mail a few weeks prior.  I also remembered that I had saved the recall notice in case I needed it.  I found the notice and it read that it was for a brake lamp malfunction.   “Eureka”; I said to myself.  It was all beginning to make sense.  My lemon was becoming more lemony but the manufacturer was right on top of things.

I dropped off the car at the dealer and explained my problem and how it might relate to the recall that I received.  They got all my pertinent information and suggested several possible maintenance items I might want to get taken care of while it was in the shop.  They suggested maintenance items required per the maintenance schedule provided by the manufacturer at the relevant mileage interval.  I politely* declined their suggestion for an air filter, oil change and spark plugs since none of this was needed. According to the sticker on my window, the oil change and air filter were done less than 1,000 miles ago and the spark plugs were changed 10 months ago and last for about 100,000 miles.  The service department was very well-trained in increasing the value of the upcoming transaction and were seizing on the opportunity that the manufacturer’s recall presented to squeeze out some additional revenues.   I guess I should give them credit for trying to implement their strategy.  I actually had to sign off that I was declining the suggested services.  I left and waited for the call that the car was fixed and ready to be picked up.

The call from the dealer arrived and I went to pick up the car.  When I got there I signed the paperwork and the car was retrieved for me.  As they were backing the car up to the door for me I couldn’t help but notice that the brakes lights still were not working.  I was crestfallen at this development.  I might have even been a little angry.  I quickly pointed this out and it was decided that I would leave the car and return the next day when it was fixed.  They apparently simply went through the motions of doing the prescribed recall work and did not check if that fixed the problem.

There are several lessons that can be learned from this failure by the dealer.  The first is how can you train your staff so well at sales techniques but fail so miserably at delivering quality work?  If they would have had a system in place that had a step in it that asked if the repairs performed corrected the problem and the technician checked to see if my brake lights were working, this would not have happened. It sounds simple to me.

The second problem is a related one.  The dealership was successful in having their sales tactics implemented – they are getting the behavior they want. I assume it is because they are rewarding sales through a compensation system. The dealer is not getting quality work from its technicians and they either are not adequately rewarding quality work or they don’t care about quality work and have no incentives for technicians.  They also may have poor hiring practices for service technicians; inadequate training or maybe the technician just had a bad day or was in a hurry.  This was, after all, a single incident and not a thorough review of a large sample of transactions so I cannot make a blanket statement as to what is the root of the problem.

The last lesson I want to discuss is the focus the dealership had increasing the bottom line over the experience of the customer.  In the long run how can you be successful if this type of incident is a regular occurrence?  Too many companies are focusing on what they want and not on what the customer wants.  A better balance is needed between aggressive sales tactics and the needs of the customer.  In my case I was auditioning this dealer for future repair work and for the inevitable recalls I will have to get corrected.  They did not pass the audition.  Just like my bad experience at the car wash earlier this year, they had an opportunity to make a positive impression but blew it. Please don’t make the same mistake.

Have a great week.

* I am lying here, I am almost certain I was not polite but rather I was firmly terse, at best, but it is my story so I was polite for all who don’t read footnotes.



Written by pacelinebiz

August 3, 2015 at 8:01 am

2 Responses

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  1. Such a great lesson here. This dealership would not get any of my future business and I would make sure to point out their shortcomings to my friends. A service function that puts the bottom line ahead of customer satisfaction and safety should not be rewarded.


    August 3, 2015 at 10:35 am

    • They will not be getting any future business from me. I am fed up with the high pressure tactics.


      August 3, 2015 at 9:46 pm

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