Dealerships, being the key point of contact between car makers and customers, often shape the success or failure of manufacturers. Keeping this in mind, Maruti Suzuki, the country’s largest car maker, has launched an exercise to train managers from its dealerships at leading business schools like Gurgaon’s Management Development Institute (MDI) and Ghaziabad’s Institute of Management Technology (IMT). More than 500 such managers have already been trained these institutes.
A three-day residential course has been designed by the car maker for the managers from showrooms across the country. The cost of this training, approximately Rs 7,000 per head, is being shared by the company and dealerships in a ratio of 70:30. As heads of outlets, showroom managers are responsible for implementing brand strategy and leading the staff at the facility.
“Human resource is the most important element in any business. We are undergoing a lot of transformation at dealerships. The infrastructure has been enhanced with the rollout of new-format showrooms and our products have the best of design and technology. However, great product and features need to be supplemented with customer experience at dealerships. The teams at dealerships should be able to deliver customer experience, as well as sales volumes. The objective of the training is to build their competency,” said R S Kalsi, senior executive director (sales and marketing), Maruti Suzuki, which has a network of over 2,500 sales outlets at present.
On an average, two managers from each showroom could be trained. The company aims to train about 1,000 showroom managers in the next financial year. Kalsi explains that a number of these managers have been in the profession for 10-20 years and their presentation and people management skills need to be enhanced. “Our customers are evolving and are quite savvy. They now need to be dealt with in a highly professional way.” The company sells over 1.6 million cars a year and enjoys a market share of over 50 per cent in the world’s fifth-biggest market for cars.
Showroom managers are being trained on topics related to strategy, sales management, customer experience management, team management and use of data for decision making. Quality managers at showrooms are being trained in service quality and effective communication with customers. Kalsi said these managers needed not only to sell cars but to offer a comprehensive solution to customers after understanding their requirements.