LAS VEGAS — CDK Global CEO Brian Krzanich has heard auto dealers' frustrations with his company: Billing is too complicated. It's difficult to get help when dealers need it.
Since taking the helm of the Hoffman Estates, Ill., dealership management system company in November 2018, Krzanich has sought to improve relationships with dealers.
The company plans to spend more than $300 million over its next three fiscal years to update technology and processes, and has boosted its hours and staff. Krzanich said he tries to meet with dealers in person as much as possible.
Krzanich, 59, talked with Automotive News about CDK's new customer service efforts. Here are edited excerpts.
Q: You've spent a lot of time with dealers. What about with manufacturers?
A: Less so, so far. I know most of those guys, so I didn't feel a need to. We had 10 straight quarters of declining customers on the dealer side and I thought that's [where I need to] spend my time, for two reasons.
One, to understand what the issues were. I thought I knew, but until you really hear all the problems, I don't think I knew it all.
And then in a lot of cases, they just want to be heard. They want to know that somebody is listening.
So I'd say a third of those guys have my cellphone number.
What do you do when they say the system's down?
First, I want to make sure I understand what the issues are. And second, I just do a quick triage in my head.
I can have that fixed quickly or I got to get a team together. In the last month, 60 percent of the time it's been something quick and 40 percent we're having to send a team in.
Do you get those calls every day?
Not every day, but almost every week. Nine thousand customers are a dynamic business. You can only fix problems you know. The ones you don't know, you can't fix.
Are you spending as much time talking with dealers as you did when you started?
Yeah. I did 375,000 miles on United last year, and this year I'm already at about 40,000.
What message has been resonating?
They're still waiting to see, so we have to keep delivering. We made a lot of promises in the past, and we didn't necessarily deliver as high a percentage as we should have. They've seen the change and the shift in our delivery. We went from 10 straight quarters of declining customers to four straight quarters of increasing customers. Highest number of customers in the company's history. That could turn on a dime if we stop delivering.