PUERTO VALLARTA. Programs to emphasize collaboration ahead of competition in its dealership network has paid off in "market leadership” and big share gains for Daimler Trucks Mexico, President and CEO Stefan Kürschner and members of the Mexico dealer council explained to North American trade media in a panel discussion here Thursday.
DTM claims share gains of 7% in each of the last two years, climbing to 36% of the Class 4-8 market in Mexico.
“We want to be #1, and to be #1 you have to win. You have to make a promise—you have to stand for something,” Kürschner said. “We’re going to tell the customer what they can expect from us, and they can hold us accountable. We don’t have a problem with accountability.”
Under the Daimler Trucks Mexico “Mutual Promise” initiative, the OEM and the dealer network commit to a “customer bill of rights,” and it’s the foundation on which more than 100 programs designed to improve the customer experience have been conceived.
More specifically, these programs focus on optimizing operations, simplifying processes, communicating effectively, and delivering a uniform service experience across the country.
A focus on truck uptime has prompted the dealers to add specialized technicians to the network, to investment in better tools practices for more productive shops, to open new express service areas, to offer an increase in “on the road” service, and—most significantly—to institute cooperative agreements for servicing fleets.
“We’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes,” said Jaime Tamez, president and CEO of the Difrenosa dealership. “In the past, every region and dealer would focus on their own customers. Now, these customers can be anywhere in Mexico and they will be serviced as if they were in their home town.”
The resulting improvement has been dramatic: A service event that averaged nearly 10 days as recently as 2013 has now come down to less than 3 days. For Difrenosa, that shop time average has fallen to about a single day.
“We at Zapata know longer think of delivering service to our customers by ourselves, but also hand-in-hand with the rest of the dealers,” added Fernando Zapata of Zapata Camiones. “Of course we compete, but in that competition we make sure the customer and the brand never get hurt. I’ve been working in the automotive business for 23 years, and I’ve never heard of a true service that is provided by every single dealer with the exact same passion as if that customer had purchased their vehicle with them.”
Being the only nameplate in Mexico shift pricing from the U.S. dollar to the peso—along with 6-month price quotes to provide stability in a time of wildly fluctuating currencies—has also contributed to the growth in market share.
“It obviously has strengthened customer loyalty and helped to minimize risks,” Zapata said.
The decision by Daimler came at the request of the dealers, and followed extensive discussion with customers.
“Uncertainty is something that really hinders customers’ ability to do business,” Kürschner said. “I’d rather have trucking company to specialize in trucking than to play around in financial markets. It was an easy decision. Is it a pain to have the peso fluctuate? Yes, but we’re an international company and we’re used to dealing with different currencies.”
Among other major initiatives, a new Dealer Management System is the platform on which the uniform customer experience is based. By using the single system across Mexico, the dealers will able to standardize service and to track and share key performance indicators, explained Alejandro Rivera, president of the dealer council.
Rivera also discussed a program to improve pricing for parts and service across the network through all-inclusive service offerings.
“The benefits are improved uptime, customer loyalty, and workshop processes planning,” he said.
Simply, it’s the “very frank” communication between the OEM, the dealers, and customers that has made the difference, suggested Fernando Jiménez of Jiménez Autocamiones.
“When you have that, you can work together towards a solution. That’s very different from what we have had for many years. Everyone was looking for the solution for the dealer, but not looking for the best for the customer,” Jiménez said. “Sometimes we have to give up a little of what we were expecting, but working towards a mutual solution is much better in the long run. It’s clarity that we want to achieve.”