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Four Strategies the New GM Can Embrace To Succeed

07/12/2009

GM can learn a lot from this Volkswagen assembly plant and how it engages the consumer. 

 As the new General Motors charts a post-bankruptcy course, listen to a brief discussion of four strategies to help the company seize the high road to consumer satisfaction, on BlogTalkRadio. Our guest is Ellis Traub, investment author and blogger.

The “new” General Motors has a unique and critical chance to reinvent itself. Here are four things it can do reignite America’s relationship with the brand:

1. Nationwide Consumer Town Halls– The new GM should embark on a series of meetings with the motor vehicle consumer, state-by-state, to engage in a dialogue about consumer expectations, creative product development, safety, green initiatives and energy consumption. Each such meeting should be televised live on the Internet, and available for re-broadcast on GM’s parent and product pages. A running list of ideas generated from the meetings should be shared on the web for further customer feedback, while still protecting any proprietary initiatives that emerge. If successful, the gatherings should be conducted annually.

2. Lifetime Concierge Service for Purchasers- American consumers expect a lot, and rightly so.  Just as OnStar follows a vehicle, so should personal service. The days of driving off the lot and ending your relationship with Detroit (except for being a slave to the service department) should be ended. Each new car buyer from GM should be assigned a personal concierge “ambassador” to assist in product questions, service disputes, and owner feedback. This will forge a new and stronger bond between the automaker and those on the street who have invested in the company’s future by purchasing products. Stronger and innovative warranties should be provided as a backbone to this consumer-ambassador relationship.

3. Bonding by Viewing Vehicle Birth- For new car and truck customers, the experience should be one of a bond, from the birth of the car. Like Volkswagen (see video) new GM vehicle purchasers should be able to visit the final assembly factory of their means of transportation and watch it take form. Personally and/or virtually engaged in the customization of the product (from color to accessories to special tech and collision avoidane options), the consumer should be given the opportunity to forge an emotional bond with his or her wheels from the birth of the product to the date it is sold or traded in for a new model.

4. Put Consumer Representatives On The Board of Directors- As advocated by noted investment author Ellis Traub, rather than being limited to the “suits” and “professionals,” the yet to be appointed Board of Directors should include the “Little Guys,” a group of consumers who can bring creativity and “from the road” common sense to the car maker process. Shareholder meetings should be televised live through streaming video. These consumer Directors, who would also represent the American Taxpayer (which has saved GM), might make a huge difference in the view from the top and its application to the re-birth of American automotive creativity.

Tell us your ideas…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Norm Blanco permalink
    07/12/2009 10:52 pm

    Interesting and good ideas that will never be considered. The labor/management culture at GM is one of power and ego and never the twain shall meet. As a lifelong member of organized labor I see the distrust and anger that exists between the two. Years ago I spoke to some members of The UAW who at the time were making The Corvair. Management had instituted new work rules that were contrary to the collective bargaining agreement. So the workers took it out on the manufacturing of the car. They omitted motor mounts, lug nuts, air in the spare tire, loose oil pan plugs and a host of other things. It was then that Ralph Nader wrote his famous book, “Unsafe at Any Speed”.
    The same type of culture exists in The USPS, the organization I retired from. I my last 5 years I was selected to train management and labor in a collaborative working environment created by W. Edwards Deming called “Employee Involvement”. Deming was the man that created the working system that is used by Japan. Dr. Deming tried to introduce his concepts to our industrial giants, was ostracized and left the country for Japan. http://www.managementwisdom.com/weddechofqua.html
    With all this history staring management in the face, they still could not give up their perceived power for the good of the company. I had proved to Postal Management that productivity improved, sick leave hours dropped, overtime hours dropped, overnight goals were being met and accidents were almost nil.
    The only way GM can succeed is to replace everyone who is in a responsible position and begin a new culture of labor management cooperation.

    Norm Blanco

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