Field of Dreams.........
It wasn't something that has happened overnight .
But I am here to tell you that over the last 4 years I have rarely spoken the words "Ford Explorer" Which for over a decade was our number 1 competitor. The Grand Cherokee LTD and Overland models have always attracted luxury car buyers. The word is out !!! Owners of 2011-2013 Grand Cherokees have shared their experiences with their friends and families. Quality and reliability perceptions are changing due to the power of "WOM"(word of mouth).Automotive publications are giving the Grand Cherokee the respect that it deserves. There are now many articles praising the Grand Cherokee . How did this happen?
It's easy..to quote the movie Field of Dreams "build it and they will come" That is the simple answer on how to change the perception of of our brands. Build the best possible vehicle they can. World class PRODUCT...... ....PRODUCT.......PRODUCT. We cant afford to build simply average vehicles anymore. They cant be just "good as" . More importantly......The reason for purchasing CANNOT be its a great deal!!!! or Awesome Value.... That works if you want to be the Walmart of the auto industry. The problem is the car companies that used to occupy the value segment are also building great cars. It breaks my heart to know that offerings from Hyundai and Kia are now competitors.
I believe current management gets it. The direction they have taken with the2014 Grand Cherokee, new Dart and soon to be released Cherokee is exactly what we need.I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever the the new Cherokee will be a huge success. Have there been fumbles regarding their launches? YES. I cant even imagine how difficult it is to bring entirely new product to market with all new engines and transmissions. As a matter of fact I cant recall in the last 20 years of my life when that was done. I was very vocal from day one that their approach with regards to"unlimited customization" was a mistake. They have recognized their mistake and are making changes....However the PRODUCT is exceptional. With the exception of my pet peeve of using the base steering wheels on any product, I think the Dart is a home run. The Caliber never ever won when a customer was actually cross shopping it against true competitors.
For those of you that somehow think my love for certain product like the 300,Charger,and Grand Cherokee are somehow motivated by my ability to make profit or a better commission because they are more expensive. I'd say you are DEAD WRONG and you obviously have no understanding how us "bad dishonest salespeople" make our living. Salespeople do not get paid on the price of the car. I could make 100 commission on a 50k Jeep just as easily as a 19k Dart. We make a better commission whenever we are not forced into simply giving away the product. The reason people fight so hard when negotiating their deal is because they don't believe
said product is worth the money. In your minds its not worth it....You feel like you can do better. Buyers that simply bought their car or Jeep because "it was a great deal" "I bought 3k under invoice" Are rarely extremely satisfied. They didn't buy because they LOVED the product and recognized the "Value" in their purchase. They bought because they were "giving them away" ......
.Now here is worst part of that kind of sale. Who do you think gives a higher customer satisfaction score to JDPowers or Consumer reports? The customer that purchased because they LOVED the product or the customer who simply liked it "it will do... but it wasn't my first choice" but I saved 3k customer ........ Those customers are the ones that are killing us. If you feel like you settled...every little thing that goes wrong is amplified and reinforces their dissatisfaction. "I knew I should have bought that Toyota for 2k more" Compared to the customer who bought because they LOVED it . They recognized the value in the product and now want to support their good decision.
Bottom line.......the perception of Chrysler Jeep and Dodge is changing, Our customer base is changing. We attracting new customers that in the past would have never considered our brands. From the BMW /Lexus customer to the Honda Civic customer. I cant wait till our 200 replacement is here because that will be yet another opportunity to COMPETE on our merits. With each new product we raise the perception of our brands. So I say cut Ralph and Sergio a little slack it takes time to turn around a company... I mean comeon guys we were only in bankruptcy and looking at the possibility of extinction just a few years back .