You’ve all seen the annual Trust Surveys showing auto sales as one of the least trustworthy professions.
The good news is we are moving up the ladder. The bad news is, we as Americans have lost trust in many other professions and institutions. We have lost trust in our politicians, our financial institutions, our medical providers (except nurses), and in attorneys who are supposed to stand for upholding the law and providing justice for all.
We have observed firsthand the impact of losing the trust of your customers. GM and Chrysler and their Unions for many decades had the full faith and support of the American vehicle buying public. They built solid cars and trucks we loved to buy. Then they started cutting corners, raising prices and not paying attention or listening to their dealers and customers. They thought the American public wouldn’t notice. Clearly they were wrong.
Consumers watched closely as Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Mazda built solid, fuel efficient and reliable vehicles. We showed our lack of trust in the Big Three by opening our wallets for these imports. The imports showed their appreciation for our loyalty by building manufacturing facilities here in the US and employing hundreds of thousands of Americans, not to mention the jobs created by their suppliers. Now except for a few niche manufacturers, just about every major global vehicle maker has a manufacturing presence in the US. By providing a quality product at a fair price they have earned our trust.
GM and Chrysler have paid dearly for their actions and missteps. After the bankruptcies were over and the Cash for Clunkers program was initiated the American public rewarded Ford (and their dealers) for building high quality vehicles and not going the bankruptcy route. The proverbial day of reckoning had arrived for the auto industry.
Since that time the long and arduous task of regaining the trust of the American public has been a daily, weekly and monthly campaign. This needs to be a joint effort of retailers and manufacturers working together for the mutual goal of providing not only the best vehicles and incredible value for the vehicle, but by providing the best customer experience every time a consumer comes into a dealership.
Social media combined with both new and old technology will greatly assist everyone in reaching this goal. We have to stop using technology as a crutch and start using it to build on solid networking principles that have been around for thousands of years. When we focus on helping our neighbors get what they want, we will get what we want. Each satisfied customer leaving the dealership is a new or continued relationship. Take care of your customers, listen to them and they will trust you.
Mark Dubis is the co-founder of Carfolks.com, a dealer advocate, social media website for the automotive industry. www.carfolks.com 216-712-6712.