09 September 2013

Great quote from Steve Nash, chief executive of the IMI, at the Auto Retail Network aftersales seminar last week: “you can create retention but you earn loyalty”.

It so neatly summed up the main debate of the day which centred around people versus process – or rather, why people are more important than process.

We work in a very process driven industry and retailers are increasingly frustrated by the number of box-ticking exercises that they see as interfering with their task of running the business.

More importantly, many believe that simplistic CSI scores are actually having a negative effect on customer relations – in much the same way that teachers argue that focusing purely on achieving higher SATS scores is harming education.

Customers are deserting franchised workshops in ever greater numbers to go to independents while we invest yet more money in process improvements such as call centres, electronic health checks and online service booking. None of which are considered important by the customers.

The difference, of course, is the people. And the difference between a good process and a bad process is often the person implementing it, not the process itself.

Delegates to the seminar ‘got’ this message. While I had expected most of the Q&A session to centre on process, it actually centred on people – attracting people, coaching people and leading people.

People is what the IMI is about, so it wasn’t surprising to hear Nash give plug for the Professional Register which lists technicians and managers who are judged ‘currently competent’ in the services they offer.

The Register will be launched to the public in November with the ultimate aim of encouraging motorists to “demand registered professionals when engaging with services in the motor industry”.

That’s a worthy cause and one we should support.

One of the things that customers do like about franchised workshops is ‘expertise’. And openly stating that you only employ competent technicians and managers would be a great way of creating a difference.

Rupert Saunders

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