General Motors Europe:
Retail channel strategy
The initial situation: As with most manufacturers, at GME the dealership partners from the aftersales department are supported centrally by all channels such as retail, wholesale, fleet, collision, parts and accessories. The communication almost always flows through marketing communication, which takes over implementation for the dealer for the individual channels. Sometimes the channel also goes directly to the dealer. Every channel, however, has its own concept or strategy for communicating with the dealer in order to achieve their set business goals. In principle, the communication runs “top down.”
Overall there is a single goal that all channels and the dealer have in focus: Customer loyalty
Based on the situation above, we had to develop a unified, sustainable strategy that could later be transferred to all channels. On the customer side, a team was assembled out of the agency, IT specialists and different consultants, who worked together closely and intensely on the basic structure of the future strategy for a number of weeks. We took the lead, which means we coordinated everything. Colleagues from JMAC were also on board as aftersales consultants.
It was clear from the beginning that the strategy needed to operate bottom-up rather than top-down. As long as the dealership does not have the same sensibility about aftersales as they do about new vehicle sales, and as long as they do not know the aftersales figures just as well as the new business figures, the aftersales measures that headquarters wants to see will not succeed.
Sustainable aftersales success can only come from the dealer – with holistic, targeted support from headquarters.
We needed to create a trademark/logo that would function throughout Europe and clearly show what it was all about: retention maximisation. The RMax brand developed by us is now trademarked throughout Europe and is well known as a successful programme in the industry.
Step I: The consulting and implementation material:
Because there had not been a project with this scope to date (possibly Dealership 2000 by Ford), all participating consultants worked on their respective themes in order to later put together a “working Bible” for the pilots. Here are some examples/excerpts from many of the internal working documents.
Step II: Piloting
Start of the 6-month work at the pilot dealer, which included:
- Presentation of the RMax team at the dealership and explanation of what will be happening in the coming months
- Establishing an RMax office in the dealership
- Discussions with employees from new vehicles, service workshop in during the initial few weeks
- Taking detailed workshop samples
- Analysing the actual load for the workshop
- Analysing the actual billed hours and parts per job
- Analysing the customer database and carrying out data cleansing
- Setting up direct reception (which had previously been used as a warehouse)
- Training people responsible for direct reception (manual creation)
- Process improvement between parts suppliers and workshop
- Process improvement for workshop processes
- Introduction of a new signage and parking system (customers vs. workshop vehicles)
Additional details would be too much here and may disclose sensitive information. However, the aftersales results were already clear after 4 months. At the end, there was 2-digit percentage growth for workshop load shown on the board in the workshop – for everyone to see.
All processes that we analysed and re-implemented as needed led to:
- less wasted time
- less wasted money
- more transparency for all workshop staff
- better staff motivation through clearly defined processes and structures
But what is much more important is that the dealership team not only understood the change in perspective but internalised it.
Step III: Fine-tuning and implementation material
In the final phase of the first pilots, a second pilot was simultaneously implemented in Spain. The findings from pilot 1 were fine-tuned and taken into account here. In addition, the most important sales enablers were developed and produced in the team:
- Aftersales welcome board
- MoM board (ManagementMAM board (management aftersales meeting))
- Marketing planning board (with load capacity set in order to react quickly)
- Direct reception toolbox (the most important tools for tests)
- Finalisation of direct reception (what are the 5 most important products that always need to be shown)
- Tire concept, including presentation display, pricing display, sales training, etc.
- And much more
The basic structure of the RMax principle
Three key indicators that say everything: A dealership and workshop brochure was developed for each individual indicator on the basis of the basic structure, which shows in detail what is behind each indicator.
Roll-out to all other channels
RMax is above everything else
Because this had so much success, so-called “knowledge library” brochures were eventually developed for the dealership for each of the channels such as collision, fleet, extended warranty, etc.
RMax has been successfully implemented and internalised at countless dealerships throughout the world today. Every dealer can decide for itself whether it would like to participate in the RMax programme. Participating dealerships are demonstrably more successful than other dealerships!
Last but not least: This is only a small part of the complex RMax programme. Up to the roll-out, we were the lead agency that directed all the other consultants and specialty firms, for example, data cleansing, etc. At the end of the pilot phase, we had produced a comprehensive RMax “Bible,” which people continue to use as a guide for implementation toady and which RMax implements at interested dealerships.
What we learned as an agency working intensively for 5 years together with customers and JMAC consultants is what makes us different from other aftersales agencies:
- We base our work on key figures
- We know the industry in all its depth and diversity
- We do not just talk theoretically about workshop situations and possible optimisation in aftersales – we know the dealers inside out.