changing focus

Transforming a motor dealership culture from sales focus to customer focus; what are the links between employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction and profitability?

Business situation

The region 8 (within the M25) dealer council was concerned that the 18 dealers within region 8 were in the top 10% of dealer volumes – new and used cars- but were in the bottom 20% in terms of Customer Service Index (CSI) ratings and profitability.

We were approached by the dealer principal of the largest independent dealer and worked with the sales and after-sales team on a programme of activity that addressed four key issues:

  • business process and systems
  • culture, values and attitude
  • behaviour, capability and competency
  • reward, recognition and e-sat (employee satisfaction).

Activity and intervention

  • After a research phase we proposed some changes to processes and systems that ensured more accurate, timely and consistent management of CSI issues.
  • We instigated a business improvement and change programme that was a 'Trojan horse' for culture change.
  • We put managers and directors through a development programme that enabled them to manage performance better, and more effectively provide feedback and coaching.
  • We reviewed the employee satisfaction information and found correlations to customer satisfaction, c-sat data which we were able to align and improve.
  • We instigated a regional review linked to CSI initiatives in Europe and the US which created the first pan-European and US review of customer focus and employee satisfaction.

Outcomes achieved

The 'pilot' dealer went from 127th to 14th in two years and 75% of the region 8 dealers were in the top 30 within three years. The only ones not to make the transition were those owned by the manufacturer.

All of the dealerships that improved their e-sat scores were able to show links to 'right first time' initiatives within the body shop, reduced incidence of customer complaint, higher retention of customers and improved levels of profitability – in % turnover terms.

International networks took on many of the initiatives and created CSI workshops for non-customer facing staff and administration personnel.

The dealership and company remains one of the highest scoring CSI luxury brand.

“For the first time we started to understand that profitability was so much more than our brand. Our brand certainly creates pull but we have to do so much more to translate that into sustainable turnover and customer loyalty……….and it also left us all feeling good about working for the company……….”