Best PracticesDealership Marketing

Install a ‘Runaway Truck Ramp’ Today

I was relocated several years ago and made countless drives back and forth from Atlanta to St. Louis for the holidays to see family. My favorite part of the drive was Hwy 24 about an hour West of Chattanooga, TN through the Southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains. The scenery is breathtaking, but something else always took my breath away at this part of the drive, too. I’m convinced that it is something that every dealership should pattern their Consumer Experience process and procedure after.

Recently, a dealership made the forums “wall of shame” by suing a consumer for damages resulting from a video they’d loaded on Youtube. The consumer questioned some CP charges on their invoice after reviewing footage from a dashcam that was conveniently recording the entire time that the vehicle was in the dealership’s possession. The consumer made a montage of recorded phone calls with the Service Advisor overlayed with text explaining the perceived inconsistency of the invoice’s billable hours with the footage. They included the elapsed time the Techs spent under the hood and even some difficult to explain conversation about errors made in a previous service visit for the same reported failure.

Now, this article could easily take a left turn and focus on the new normal that technology is ushering into every process and procedure at the dealership, but I want to focus on the old normal. How did we get from the consumer questioning billable hours to the dealer suing a consumer for defamation? My best guess is that there are no “Runaway Truck Ramps” in this dealer’s Consumer Experience process.

Imagine 80,000lbs of 18-wheeler hurtling down a 6% grade mountain pass unable to stop under its own power. The momentum is carrying it toward certain catastrophe without an external intervention. This is the perfect analogy for the consumer experience described above. How many opportunities were missed along the way to redirect the path of this consumer experience death spiral in order to regain control? I can only imagine that it is a jarring and uncomfortable experience for the driver of an 18-wheeler to ditch their rig into an inclined sandbar, but the realization that this is the only option to avoid catastrophe is ingrained in their training. When they are no longer in control of the load they are in charge of delivering they make the decision to use the runaway truck ramp because they know it is the only option. The service advisor knew they had a potential consumer experience catastrophe on their hands, but they either weren’t trained or weren’t afforded the runaway truck ramp they needed to regain control of this situation effectively.

Ask yourself:

Is every member of your team trained to recognize a consumer experience catastrophe in the making?

Have they been trained to know when and where, or in this case who, represents the runaway truck ramp in their department?

Is that runaway truck ramp in your organization available 24-7-365?

Do you have an active plan to rapidly decelerate consumer experience catastrophes and recognize the individual efforts required to avoid them?

Last thought: You’ll probably never see a news story about a heroic driver of an 18-wheeler who uses a runaway truck ramp to regain control, but you will certainly see plenty of coverage of the driver that causes a pileup because they weren’t trained or willfully ignored processes designed to mitigate risk.


Ryan Leslie VP of Sales CarStory LinkedIn “The way to a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” ― Socrates