Feedback gets big role in GM dealer bonus
Mystery shoppers, online reviews are among factors
Hurley: Dealers must manage online images.
General Motors is changing the metrics of its pay-to-play Standards for Excellence program to put more emphasis on feedback from customers.
The changes, which start in January, will tie less of a dealers' quarterly bonus money to traditional sales volume and customer satisfaction index scores, according to an Oct. 19 memo from GM to dealers and confirmed by Steve Hurley, owner of Stringray Chevrolet in Plant City, Fla., and co-chairman of the Chevrolet dealer council.
Next year 20 percent of the bonuses can be earned by participating in program elements that include mystery shopping, online reputation management and courtesy transportation for service customers,
The program also will allow an extra payout for a salesperson of up to $200 per vehicle sold depending on the salesperson's monthly sales volume, Hurley says. GM pays the salesperson directly, he says.
The program is intended to educate dealers about what's happening in their stores and what's being said about them on the Internet, says Hurley.
Taking a little different approach, Chrysler Group is rolling out its Customer Experience Initiative, which eliminates cash incentives to dealers for customer service. The program relies on customer surveys that measure buyer satisfaction. Chrysler gathers customer feedback through follow-up phone calls, e-mail surveys and mystery shopping.
The ability to pay a bonus to a salesperson in GM's new program is critical to attracting and retaining top talent, Hurley says.
A spokesman for GM declined to comment on the changes.
Dealers now pay $15,000 to $35,000 a year, depending on the dealership's size and brand, to participate in the SFE program. They can earn $10,000 to more than $100,000 each quarter if sales goals are met and the dealer meets or exceeds the region's CSI score, Hurley says. The cost to participate in SFE will not change, Hurley says, and the maximum reward level will remain the same.
GM will hire vendors for reputation management, Hurley says. GM presently has a mystery shopping program, and dealers will continue to pay a "small annual fee" for that, Hurley says.
Hurley says many dealers are naive about what is said about them online.
"It's effectively the same as spending all this money on new facilities and someone comes along and spray paints on your beautiful new building, 'Don't buy from this guy,' " Hurley says. "Dealers have to be aware of what's being said about them and manage it properly."
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