There is an old adage that still rings true: Do everything you can to make the best possible first impression.
An excellent first impression can go a long way to reinforce positive feelings. In turn, a bad impression can have a lasting negative effect and be nearly impossible to change.
I thought about that when conducting interviews for my story about Chris Walsh, president of dealership management system giant Reynolds and Reynolds since January 2022.
Walsh and CEO Tommy Barras are redoubling efforts to attract new dealership customers and keep the old ones, and there is a continued push at the company to simplify its DMS contracts and improve relationships.
These are all attempts to create positive impressions, but they come after Reynolds built up some negative ones.
Under the previous CEO — the controversial Bob Brockman — dealers saw Reynolds as inflexible, and its market share was at risk. Brockman died at 81 in August, but he left the company in November 2020 after being indicted in what the federal government has positioned as the largest tax evasion case ever brought against an individual in the United States.
With Brockman gone, the question is: Are Walsh and Barras succeeding in changing negative perceptions of company customer service into positive ones?
Walsh and Barras' leadership seems to be making progress, based on some of the people I spoke with. The company also has undertaken initiatives to inject more innovation into its products and services.
We'll continue to check in on how those efforts are resonating with dealers.