Automotive Aftersales Innovation Workshop: The Takeaways

JUNE 5, 2018

In late May, we hosted our first Aftersales Innovation Workshop and welcomed automotive OEM executives and professionals from across the country to our 5-house campus near downtown Austin. The day’s agenda included: discussions about their current challenges and opportunities; presentations from several Austin startup CEOs on their own auto industry innovations; and a local barbecue feast to finish the afternoon (thanks, La Barbecue!). It was a day of sharing new ideas in the auto industry and discussing the shifts occurring in the field, directly from the mouths of leaders making the change.

When discussing innovations and taking data to the next level, the field was the focus. In particular, what does the field need to thrive in their roles? Here are a few of the takeaways. 

Automotive brands have a lot of data (don’t we all?), but one question still rings in the minds of leaders: Is the data telling us what we really need to know? We hear, “We have so much data, but somehow it’s still not enough,” time and time again. What do we do about it? Do we know enough details to make change? One metric, like declining Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI), may have a few hidden drivers. Do the change agents know these drivers? They need more than just top-level metrics.
We are inherently motivated by understanding why we’re doing something. The same rings true for the auto field; they must understand the “whys” behind every metric they’re chasing. Why is your CSI down? Well, maybe the car wasn’t repaired on time. Why wasn’t it on time? Because parts weren’t in stock. When we keep asking why, we may uncover that the real cause of plummeting CSI is actually a training problem: The parts weren’t stocked because the need wasn’t known until the car arrived, all because the responsible party wasn’t trained to ask.

This deep-dive not only gives the much needed granularity in metrics, but also provides the context vital to understanding how to fix the problem. Unfortunately, most people in the field just don’t have time to dig deep. The true impact is in the prescriptive nature of metrics. The solution? Machines can provide the answer to the 5th why immediately, and the field isn’t stuck wasting time searching for the real drivers.

“We speak too much to tactics to execute. We don’t slow down to talk about the value. The ‘here’s why’ conversations don’t happen with our dealers.”
It’s a tricky situation that all brands—auto and otherwise—are experiencing: Too much data distracting an organization’s change agents. For the automotive industry, those agents are the District Managers—a group with a particularly high turnover rate. They’re bogged down, unable to create change, and don’t always understand their impact on workflow. Particularly in Aftersales, we see the field caught up in the numbers and checklists, while ignoring the “So What?” 

So what can corporate do? Shifting the focus to process sheds light on the holistic problem. Metrics alone are not enough; the field needs to take action on the data points that are relevant to their particular situations. Companies must take the weight off the field by showing them data that is most important to their particular operations, while adding recommendations into what is really causing it. When that burden is lifted, change becomes the focus.

Field empowerment comes from delivering granular data, context, and insight into how it affects process; this was evident in the conversations at our Aftersales Innovation Workshop. The automotive industry is perfectly poised for innovation and the creation of new techniques to tackle this problem.
Any of these trends sound familiar? Click here to learn more about having your own
Innovation Day to explore how to we can help empower your fields.
Brad is inspired to change the way cars are bought, serviced, and sold. Having spent the last 30 years in the automotive industry, he’s adept at turning around automotive retail operations and solving dealer network challenges. With a unique blend of sales, finance, and operations expertise, Brad is charged with growing Square Root’s automotive footprint. Brad is a CPA who holds a MBA from Columbia University as well as a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Illinois.