Monday, November 21, 2005

GM, Where is their mind?

You might be wondering how a Life Coach thinks he knows how GM can turn around their company. Well I am more than a Life Coach, I am a consumer, a businessman and a owner/driver of Chevrolet vehicles for the past 30 years.

Take my word, General Motors is headed down the same path as Delta, Winn Dixie and K-Mart. For the record, GM is making all the same mistakes. They won't listen to anyone, I even wrote to Rick Wagoner Jr. today with my comments.

My only concern is that Ford is right behind GM. In less than 5 years, all cars will be imported or built with 100% imported parts. I have owned and operated 6 businesses and I speak from experience, GM is making all the wrong moves.

Lets look at all of these companies and see if there is a pattern.

K-Mart was up and running long before Wal-Mart started. K-Mart built large stores, lost control and never fixed up their stores. Wal-Mart was started as Walton's 5 & 10. Sam built larger, newer stores. He kept his stores clean and neat. He focused on price but more important, he focused on " Made In America." Even though almost everything at Wal-Mart is imported. Most important, Sam focused on taking anything back. Although this has changed, they still stand behind their products.

K-Mart employees lost interest, the stores became dirty, yet the management continued to spend millions on the glossy weekly newspaper inserts. Most of the time they never had the item or it did not look like the one in the ad. They were on the right track bringing in Martha Stewart, but just about everything else was a mistake. Where did it leave them, in Chapter 11.

Now take Winn Dixie, they let their stores run down, they were dirty and old. What did they do, they tried to compete with Wal-Mart and Publix on price. As you can see, guess who lost that fight, Winn Dixie stock is now about 60 cents a share.

Ok, now lets take a look at Delta. What a sad story. At one time Delta was perceived as the top airline in America. Delta was rock solid. Delta was strong and healthy, but problems developed before 9/11. They started to compete with Value Jet, now known as Air Trans. They should have stayed the leader, increasing customer service and improving meals. Instead of growing stronger, they decided to compete on price and give Air Trans tough competition. Look how this ended, Delta stock is worth about 60 cents.

Now look at GM, "HELLO", "WAKE UP", do you see a pattern. For many years, GM vehicles were king of the road. I remember as a kid riding in my parents Chevrolet. The door panel had a logo that said, "Body Made By Fisher." This was when cars were built like tanks.

Then the imports arrived. They were perceived to be built better and cheaper. Remember those days when imports meant cheap, not anymore. Buying a new car was an experience. Each model year the vehicles changed and the excitement built, but overall cars were still inexpensive.

Over the past 20 years, buying a car has lost it's luster. Cars are expensive and dealer lots are full. Now lets compare this to K-Mart. Most dealers have a great deal of inventory, they push locating the car you want instead of selling you the car they have. The sales people at most GM lots I visit have lost their enthusiasm. Now lets talk about service after the sale. GM in my book rates a big "0".

Have a problem, go back to the dealer with your $50,000 and see how you are treated. Have a problem that the dealer does not resolve, good luck, writing GM is like talking to a nice big rock. They don't care.

Ok, so how could GM reinvent itself. First, they could hold town hall style meetings, each night invite owners of a certain model to a free dinner. Lets the owners tell the designers what they like and don't like.

Second, they could shift the way dealers repair vehicles. Try looking at it from the customers view point. Start treating the customers like they just bought a new $50,000 vehicle. Maybe see how Lexus and Range Rover treat their customers.

Then stop spending millions on daily newspaper ads and start treating customers like they should be treated. How about a gift and follow up call after the sale from someone at GM who cares and has some authority. When you take your car in for repair, act like it is GM's fault instead of the customers. Do whatever it takes to make it right.

I buy my vehicles from an old fashion Chevy dealer. The general manager waits on us himself. He treats us like a friend instead of a customer. One thing I know for sure, if I have a problem after the sale, he will take care of it and treat us right. Maybe GM needs to visit Hardy Chevrolet in Gainesville Georgia where I buy my vehicles.

Ok, so there you have it, GM just took its first step in recreating itself and I think it took a big leap in the wrong direction.

Tomorrow I will write about Wolf Camera, definitely #1 on my list of customer service nightmare stories.

Until then, when you are driving, please wear your seat belt.


No comments: