Store leaders major in service at Cadillac University
Butler: Program aims at leaders below dealers.
DETROIT -- General Motors used a Harvard customer-service guru and other experts to school Cadillac dealership leaders on improving their service operations.
The training program, dubbed Cadillac University, is the luxury brand's latest effort to improve customer service and retention, which GM believes is critical as it rolls out vehicles aimed at attracting buyers of German luxury vehicles.
Factory sponsored training seminars are old hat for dealers. The twist on Cadillac University: It is geared for service managers, general managers and other store leaders "just below the dealer principal," Don Butler, Cadillac's vice president of marketing, told Automotive News.
In November, about 100 Cadillac dealership employees from around the country attended the 2 1/2-day training program at the posh Bacara Resort & Spa, near Santa Barbara, Calif. Among the speakers was Frances Frei, Harvard Business School professor and an authority on designing service organizations. Cadillac plans to offer the training annually.
The program's goal is to drive growth in service revenue as a way to improve customer retention, says Chase Hawkins, Cadillac's vice president of sales and service.
"One focus was getting people who work on the non-fixed ops side of the business to understand how important it is from a customer retention standpoint to get that service piece right," such as the sales-to-service handoff, Hawkins said.
Dealers also heard from an executive at a human resources strategy firm on topics such as hiring service techs and setting compensation.
GM invited personnel from 10 large Cadillac operators from each of its sales regions.
Howard Drake, owner of Casa de Cadillac in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and a member of the Cadillac National Dealer Council, sent his service manager and his digital-platform manager to the training. He said dealers and GM shared expenses.
Drake said the training included tips such as helping service managers analyze financial statements. He said the program was effective "in teaching our managers a luxury approach throughout the operation."
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