Joel Kotowy
Managing Partner
Prime Action
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Prime Action, Acknowledging Cultural Differences Key for Success

By Alejandro Enríquez | Wed, 05/20/2020 - 07:59

Q: What are Prime Action’s solutions for the automotive industry?

A: We are a Brazilian company with more than 18 years in the Mexican market. Our service is oriented toward marketing strategies, dealership development, process standardization and sales channel development. In the automotive sector, we provide services for heavy and light vehicles. Some of our main clients in the country are Toyota, Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi, Harley Davidson, BMW and Daimler. Looking at our history, we have worked with 80 percent of the automotive brands present in the country, either in their new car sales area, used car sales, aftersales, parts and financing areas.

Each project is unique and so are our customers. Our first project in Mexico was “Siempre Contigo” (Always With You), which aims to standardize all sales and aftersales processes in Chevrolet’s dealership network. We established a scorecard to keep track of sales results and improvement areas. We eliminate the ghost of coincidence through evidence. This model remains after 18 years at GM’s dealership network. Another major experience was the “Comonuevos” (Just Like New) project we implemented with Toyota. This model was developed by Toyota USA, but we adapted it to the Mexican market considering dealership needs and market needs. In the premium segment we have worked with BMW on adaptating and implementing a Basic Process Guide (BPG) to adapt one of its programs to the Mexican context for both the dealership network and the end customer. Using this model, BMW has achieved customer satisfaction with aftersales service in 2019, according to J.D. Power. 

Q: What are some common mistakes that brands make when landing in the country? 

A: They do not acknowledge cultural differences between the brand’s country of origin and the country where they are landing. For instance, when a brand is just entering the market, it has its own programs or projects set by headquarters. Dealership networks and final customers have different needs here. Bringing a preset package can be a liability. 

Consumers are used to looking for information online. When they go to the dealership, they go to confirm their decision with an expert. Today’s customers are better informed, which is why it is imperative to have a better-trained and better-informed sales force. Each brand has its specific market niche. They should to identify this first and then identify the effective market potential, with which brands they are competing and where. In defining this kind of strategy, brands need to identify customers’ needs and then address these through data-based decisions. A company cannot be making offers based on feelings. This applies to all automotive market segments: volume, premium and even to heavy vehicles. 

Q: How are dealerships impacted by the current market situation?

A: We need to take into account all market variables. When seeing the industry through a product cycle, we have seen more critical situations. It is a matter of what government strategies will support investors. Naturally, with better cash flow, we can expect the automotive sector, as well as many others, to start recovering. We now need mutual trust between the private sector and the government to foster investments. In 2020, the market will behave similarly to what we saw in 2019. But this year’s results will provide a clear picture of what is to come. 

Regardless, if sales start to fall, aftersales service will increase. For this reason, it is vital that companies recognize the added value in this segment and foster its growth. Companies need to look at the used-vehicles segment as a really important business unit. Customers need to see the dealership as a safe place to bring their cars in exchange for newer models. 

Q: How is Prime Action embracing trends such as Big Data and digitalization? 

A: We understand the market needs more assertive strategies. To that end, data analytics capabilities will be essential. We are investing to provide greater value for our customers through digitalization, including machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions that can boost our clients’ results in sales and aftersales. We continuously support our clients on how to produce more and better-quality data and how to manage it. Most dealerships do not have an adequate structure to use databases or a process to make these efficient. This is one of the greatest needs and opportunities for this market. 

What Big Data can do is help a company to redefine its strategy and even its business model. We cannot neglect the role Big Data plays in product distribution. All strategies must interconnect both headquarters and dealerships through the right use of information. 

Prime Action is a Brazilian consultancy with 18 years in the Mexican market. In the automotive sector, the company is focused on product management, dealership and sales channel development. Prime Action has collaborated with Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault, among others.

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst