Blockbuster Customer Service!
In 2000, Blockbuster was on top of the world of video entertainment. The founder of a fledgling company called Netflix flew to Dallas to meet the CEO of Blockbuster with a proposal that the two companies forge a partnership. The record shows he was laughed out of the room. The Netflix business model of utilizing DVD rental by mail to distribute movies was an idea that would never work.
Agents must help dealers avoid Blockbuster’s fate by putting the customer first and being willing to change the F&I process to suit their wants and needs.
However, 10 years later, Blockbuster was bankrupt and Netflix was exploding with profits. And it wasn’t just that another company had outsmarted them. It really came down to two mistaken beliefs about customers and how to treat them. Let’s look at them.
1. Profit Was More Important Than the “Why” Behind It!
Blockbuster earned an enormous amount of money by charging its customers late fees, which had become an important part of their revenue model. The ugly truth was that the company’s profits were highly dependent on penalizing its patrons. Their primary focus became profits over people.
Any business that does not focus on helping customers will eventually be overtaken by those that do! As consultants, we have a unique role to play in molding the “why” of the dealership partners we serve. When customers feel we have their best interests at heart, they will listen to our recommendations and buy more products than we could ever sell them.
Having a selling purpose beyond making money, winds up making you even more money.
An F&I department that seeks to provide real value and realize their job is to improve each customer’s condition will always outperform those focused mainly on profits. Every customer leaves knowing why they need the products they bought, how much they paid, and how to use them when the need arises. And they leave with one thing that is priceless: the good feeling of having been heard and helped!
Unfortunately, there are still some F&I professionals so consumed with profit that the customer has been forgotten and their process has degraded into something less than customer-friendly. When we encounter these situations, whether it is a lone F&I manager or the entire dealership team, we must be bold in our efforts and challenge them to forge a path back to a customer-centric approach.
2. They Refused to Change, Even When the Market Demanded It!
Blockbuster’s directors essentially stated the same thought of many when faced with the call to change to accommodate the needs of their customers: “It will never work.” Those four words can kill a company — and in this case, it did! It is much easier to call new ideas and new ways of doing business crazy, ridiculous or simply wrong than to admit that our way may be outdated or unproductive.
We are in a rapidly changing market. Customers are demanding that we provide the same experience they are enjoying in other retail arenas. They are asking for a more time-efficient and transparent process utilizing technology that allows them to do a portion of the F&I transaction online before coming to the dealership.
One of the most profitable services we can offer our dealership partners is to help them define the path to constructive change that will enhance the customer experience. The customer response will be more products purchased and more repeat business, all of which are our ultimate goals.
In car dealerships nationwide, we are facing a “blockbuster” challenge. Will we embrace change, or will we fight to keep doing things the same way? The answer to that challenge will determine if we will be left behind (Blockbuster) or be leading the charge to change (Netflix). I cast my lot with the changers!