Motoring: Gavin Green's column
Car bosses have about as much understanding of typical car buyers as the Queen has with life in middle England
Saturday 22 August 1998
None of them buy their own cars, or can even boast of purchasing one for at least a decade. Indeed, the boss of one of the world's biggest car companies recently admitted that he had never bought one.
They don't run cars, either. Petrol and servicing are paid for and when a car is six to 12 months old it is often replaced.
Basically, car company bosses have about as much understanding of car buyers as John Prescott has of public transport commuters, or as the Queen has of life in middle England.
Bosses rarely visit dealers, and never observe real-life customers going through real-life haggling, buying, servicing and complaining.
Few meet customers, except by accident or at corporate junkets for large fleet buyers. In fact, few company bosses, no matter what the industry, go out and buy their own goods. As with car bosses, most get them for free. But at least many bosses have first-hand experience of how their own customers behave.
Marks & Spencer, an exemplar at connecting with its customers, encourages its executives to shop at its stores. Airline executives fly their own carriers, restaurant owners eat at their own restaurants, and the heads of small companies meet customers because if they didn't no one else would.
But not car company chiefs. They sit in their ivory towers, protected by over-zealous secretaries and fawning middle management, who are charged with relaying "what the customer thinks" through research that is often as verbose as it is out of date.
It isn't just the car bosses who fail to meet, or relate to, their customers. It's most of the car workforce. All middle managers get company cars, which are frequently changed and serviced by the car company's in-house garage. In other words, they rarely - if ever - go to dealerships.
Customer interaction is instead left to the dealers, most of which are independently owned and trained to "sell, sell, sell" rather than "help, help, help".
Little wonder that an outside firm such as Daewoo can come into Britain and quickly grab a sizeable chunk of the market, purely because it seems to understand what customers want - which is no commission-hungry salesmen, courtesy vehicles provided when cars are being serviced and a no-hassle warranty. It certainly hasn't succeeded on the quality of its cars.
The Daewoo system has no dealers. The one benefit with their idea of direct selling, is that someone from the firm has to meet the customer.
Life & Style blogs
Google Photos tags black people as 'gorillas', puts pictures in special folder
What is Lyme disease, what are the symptoms and is treatment readily available?
Optical illusion turns blue demon into brunette
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
What happens to your body when you drink too much water during exercise?
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Optical illusion turns blue demon into brunette
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal to donate entire $32bn fortune to charity
- 5 Mystery sea creature - with 'fur' and 'a beak' - washes up on remote Russian beach, baffling scientists
£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre scho...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...
£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...