Cadillac hires Ritz to capture younger customers

GM CEO Ed Whitacre is calling on Cadillac to treat its customers better. At a meeting in Chicago, GM managers told 300 salespeople about a Texas salesman who had dissuaded a friend of Whitacre”s from buying a Caddy. When the individual took out a CTS-V for a test drive, it ran put of gas. The gathering was intended to breathe new life into GM, which has been having trouble with the younger market, and persuading consumers that the Cadillac badge is worth paying a premium for. Trainers from Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. were brought in to show dealers how to reconnect with consumers.

“It’s truthfully a new beginning for us,” said Kurt McNeil, Cadillac U.S. vice president of sales and service. “We know we’ve got a lot of work to do on the product side, the marketing side and the customer service side. We think we do pretty well, but we know we have to do better.”

Cadillac, which was once the “Standard of the World”, sat atop the U.S. luxury market for six-decades, until 1998, and last year posted its worst year since 1953. The brand finished eighth among 12 upscale makes in the Luxury Institute”s 2009 survey of buyers with incomes of at least $150,000; only 1/3 of respondents felt Cadillac was worth a premium, while 57% felt the same about BMW and 63% for Mercedes.

Research shows that among luxury buyers, Cadillac owners are the oldest and least affluent. The purpose of the Ritz-Carlton training is so that Cadillac may create a consistent sales experience across the U.S.; something akin to what customers expect when walking into a Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Some Ritz-Carlton cues that Cadillac is following include the carrying of “˜credo” cards by Cadillac employees, and the use of “˜wow money”. “˜Credo” cards are pocket sized cards with principles outlining quality customer service, that Ritz-Carlton employees are required to produce on demand. “˜Wow money” is an allotted amount of money that each representative gets to enhance customer service. Ritz-Carlton allots each representative $2,000 per customer per day, while one Cadillac dealership has allotted $300-$500 to its reps.

– By: Stephen Calogera

Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)