The organization is the brand

This is a classic example of how a brand that spends millions on external branding, needs to also look at internal branding.

BMW has a number of dealers in Malaysia however, as far as I can determine, there are only 2 main dealers in the Klang Valley. We bought a BMW 3 series new from one of the 2 main dealers in Kuala Lumpur about seven years ago.

The dealer also has an impressive work shop and so we serviced it at the same dealer for the first six years. There is also a bodyshop and as my wife is the main user of the car, we’ve visited the body shop more often than most car owners. We own three cars but only one BMW so I consider us an ideal customer as there is obviously plenty of opportunity to cross and up sell us.

Indeed we’re intending to sell the 3 series and buy a new car in the next 3 months. However before we do so, the car require needs some attention.

Although we get plenty of generic direct mail and the occasional and predictable after service call asking if we are happy from the original dealer, the original sales person moved on a long time ago and we haven’t got a call from anyone else on the sales floor. Even when the car was 5 years old, an ideal time to sell and buy a new car, we didn’t get a call inviting us in for a test drive.

The original dealer hasn’t tried to build a relationship with us and therefore we don’t have any loyalty to them. So we sent the car to the original dealers main competition in the Klang Valley and asked them to look at the car and quote for the repairs.

Now in my business, if a client who has been with my competition for 7 years, were to knock on my door and offer me the chance of getting his business I would be all over him like the proverbial white on rice! Customers are the source of profits. Without them, brands would not exist. Existing customers are the most reliable source of future revenue. The thought of taking one of those nice profitable customers away from the opposition is, I have to say, a pleasant thought.

After all, we’re in the midst of a global recession that has seen marketing and other costs slashed. Passenger car sales are predicted to be down over 15% this year. In this environment, new customer acquisition is a massive drain on dwindling resources and any prospect is valuable, especially one that walks in the door and has “I’m a genuine prospect’ written all over him.

But no, instead of looking at us as an opportunity. An opportunity to acquire a new customer from the competition, we were viewed as another expense and the mechanic told us that they would carry out the inspection but would charge in the region of RM250 (US60)!

As you can imagine, this riled me. Sure I’m going to compare the quote with a quote from somewhere else but so what. That is a cost of doing business. But surely it is important to look past the issue at hand and the opportunity for future business?

With the right internal brand that includes standard processes for new prospects that are essentially a number of simple questions that lay the foundations for rapport. A dealer, who in this case represents the BMW brand, will be well positioned to acquire a new customer for a minor investment of RM250.

In this instance, I have a negative impression of the dealer and BMW that will require a lot of work and a much greater investment, to undo.

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