While Americans are hoping to be able to buy a new car around the Christmas holidays or get some service work done before the trip to grandmother's house, the factories are all closed; everyone is taking a vacation.
Automakers might not be building cars or designing cars or even engineering automobiles, but the auto business is alive and well and serving American car owners.
I've never understood the difference. Everyone is in the industry together, and yet the manufacturers seem to close every chance they get. Maybe it's a legacy from earlier times, or maybe it's just a disconnect with the retail world.
I wonder what would happen if all the factory folks had to work in dealerships during their Christmas break. They would learn a heck of a lot about what makes their customers tick and how important it is to treat customers well.
The retail business puts in a lot more official hours. That's not to say that there aren't many executives who work plenty of long days and weeks, but the average dealership is open a lot of hours.
I still don't understand why Detroit-area dealerships close on weekends when most folks want to do their shopping. But that's a local custom.
The retail car business is supposed to suit the customer. That's what customer service is all about: making it as easy as possible for the customer to do business with the dealership.
Telephones, faxes and the Internet have made communication with the customer easier and more effective. And CSI scores reflect a growing understanding of the importance of keeping the customer happy.
It doesn't matter what business we're in. Our job is to make sure our customers are happy and know we are trying as hard as possible to satisfy them. If we don't, there are plenty of competitors out there who would be happy to steal our customers.
I don't know how many cars are sold between Christmas and New Year's, but it is in the thousands. What if every dealership just shut down its sales and service operations? I'm not convinced that all those cars eventually would be bought.
It's not going to happen soon, but why not offer your factory rep a place to hang out all week long? You know, he just might learn something.