Just “One Thing” To Remember in 2013


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In the movie “City Slickers“, Curly Washburn (Jack Palance) counsels Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal) on the meaning of life.

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?

Mitch: No what?

Curly: One thing, just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean s**t.

Mitch: That’s great but what’s the one thing?

Curly: That’s what you gotta figure out.

In the 2013 business environment of competing priorities, Curly’s home-spun philosophy is completely apropos. A laser focus is key for OEM success. But what should this “one thing” be?

I believe it was David Mondragon, General Marketing Manager for Ford and Lincoln, who made the comment when he was President of Ford of Canada that the next competitive battleground will be the retail experience. And I think he’s right.

Apple is still considered the standard by many for an outstanding retail experience. In an article entitled “The secret of a great Customer Experience – Apple case study” posted by Colin Shaw in September 2012 on the Customer Think website, he talks about the Apple training manual. He writes that “it’s an exhaustive manual to understanding customers and making them happy. Sales, it turns out, take a backseat to good vibes—almost the entire volume is dedicated to empathizing, consoling, cheering up, and correcting various Genius Bar confrontations. The assumption, it’d seem, is that a happy customer is a customer who will buy things.”

Maritz’ own 2012 Customer Payback Study came to the same conclusion (if you’re bored the findings are still posted on The Ride). Customers who are more satisfied tend to have greater loyalty, spend more, and recommend the product and dealer at higher rates than those who aren’t happy. It’s in the financial best interest of dealers and manufacturers to deliver an exemplary buying experience. What a revelation.

Where this is especially relevant is when we realize that customers, on average, will shop at least one other dealership that sells the same make of car. What’s to differentiate one dealership over another if the product and price is the same? The customer experience. Dealerships that reject this reality do so at their peril.

The good news is that the auto industry is doing a better job at making customers happy. Our New Vehicle Customer Study which talked to over 140,000 consumers in the US found that in 2012, 47.2% of customers were completely satisfied with their buying experience, the highest in the last five years. In Canada, responses from 43,000 consumers in 2012 showed that 53.0% were completely satisfied, which again is the highest since 2008. The work will be to sustain and build upon these levels. Focusing on this “one thing” in 2013 will pay dividends for both dealers and manufacturers.

Thanks Curly. Great advice.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris Travell
Chris Travell is VP, Strategic Consulting for the Automotive Group of Maritz Research. He is responsible for working with Maritz' Insight Teams to further the understanding and application of the firm's automotive research. He has appeared on numerous television programs and is often quoted in Automotive News, Time, USA Today, Edmunds, Detroit Free Press, The Globe and Mail and various other publications in regard to issues related to the North American automotive industry. He is the principal contributor to The Ride Blog, Maritz Research's automotive blog.


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