As the body of people that represent the manufacturers for which we hold franchises, we get it ... we truly do. The big question is why don't the manufacturers get it?
With this, I simply mean that we understand WHO our customer is. It is the end user of the product we represent, and we must ensure that they are completely satisfied, correct?
For manufacturers, WE are the customers. So why aren't they making sure that WE are completely satisfied?
Let's correlate their efforts into our business:
We once focused our attention on the man of the house, whom we presumed was the head of the household and made the buying decision. Those neglected spouses, meanwhile, searched elsewhere, and our market share dropped. We quickly learned that men are not always the buyer in a typical household and we adapted accordingly.
Automakers now need to learn that the end user -- the person driving their product -- isn't their direct customer. It is the dealer body.
When they spend all of their efforts trying to gain the support of OUR customer and neglect the dealer body, WE search elsewhere.
Additionally, would we fire our employees -- the team WE created, the team WE agreed to hire -- if we ever planned to do business in our market again?
Of course not! We understand the value of relationships. As representatives of our local markets, we have a large influence on what our market buys.
This is an important lesson -- a critical lesson -- for Chrysler and other auto manufacturers: WE, the dealer body are YOUR customer.
Treat us with respect and make it financially feasible for us to represent your product and we will make YOU successful. Bypass us and you will fail.
Should you elect to terminate our relationship in an effort to restructure your organization, remember not to burn bridges, as Chrysler is now doing.
The day may come when you decide that all those dealers you forced to liquidate for a fee may one day be your salvation in the many markets they still represent!
And we may have gone elsewhere.