Standards Incentive Program Drives Brand Compliance & Consistency
How an international manufacturing company motivated independent dealers to enhance products, services and facilities for a better customer experience.
Our client wanted to create a best-in-class dealer organization to dominate their respective territories. But before working with ITA Group, there was little focus on the characteristics that would help improve profitability while delivering on the brand’s customer experience promise.
They needed a standards program that would not only encourage implementation and self-reporting among 640 hard-to-reach independent dealers (U.S. and Canada), but also be recognized as offering premier sales and customer support resources, too.
The company wanted a partner with the capability to deliver customized technology, consistent localized communications, and well-aligned awards and recognition components to help their dealers level up. Increasing adoption and implementation of these standards would deliver a superior customer experience across locations and keep our client a market leader in their industry.
Building a Strategy From the Ground Up
Because this was our client’s first external standards program, we worked together to narrow down the 80 possible criteria to the most relevant and metric-impacting. Dealers would be measured and rewarded on these standards in a phased program intentionally designed to grow and change as more locations achieved certification. Continually updating metrics, segments and users required sophisticated integrations and workflows.
Designing a Multi-Purpose Platform
Building out a branded standards program enabled our clients to consistently collect and monitor otherwise unknown datapoints and correlate that information to customer success and profitability measures. We created a robust but user-friendly platform that served as a program hub for dealers and administrators. Flexibility to update standards frequently, easy approval of submitted compliance records, and the ability to track progress via dynamic reporting dashboards were critical components.
The platform was also set up to expand to additional audiences. Dealer employees who work on sales, marketing, service and parts can easily be added to the existing platform during future phases of the program. This will include sales incentives and behavior-based rewards for training, certification and customer satisfaction ratings.
Elements of the platform were designed to empower each location's ability to track and earn top performer status.
Areas monitored and measured included functions like facilities, service, sales, parts and marketing. By investing in a platform to collect and manage standards submissions, the client avoided the administrative headaches of maintaining spreadsheets and time-delayed reporting. And enjoyed the bonus abilities to track turnaround times, submission velocity and engagement levels.
Enabling At-A-Glance Dashboard Reporting
Our clients were motivated to put insights into action. We helped them roll out both a standards dashboard and a dealer scorecard to highlight key metrics. An admin landing page offered instant access to analytics around dealer groups, locations, engagement and evaluation. It was easy to see top- and bottom-tier rankings and real-time progress toward standards attainment. Improved data collection and visualized reports allowed both independent dealers and our client admins to celebrate achievements and illuminate performance gaps.
A selected ambassador at each location manages program reporting and serves as the site’s point person to:
- Log into the mobile-friendly program hub via SSO
- Submit information and complete activities with simplified uploads and quick admin approvals
- Access sales and customer support resources and education
- Earn points for each standard achieved
- Track performance progress with a quick glance at their home screen
- See how they rank compared to peer groups or locations
- Participate in quarterly promotions to earn items that enhance dealer branding
- File for extensions or waivers on specific standards
Generating & Sustaining Program Awareness & Engagement
Even a powerful hub won’t consistently sustain participation. Continual and consistent communication is required for program adoption.
We designed a full suite of branded materials to launch and share the value of the program with their dealers. These elements helped carry the message consistently from emails and social media assets through to shop towels and other swag making their brand and program quickly recognizable. Monthly messages targeted by location prompted locations to reach milestones and stay on track toward certification. Promotions changed quarterly to sustain engagement.
Because our client operates throughout the U.S. and Canada, we met their needs for French Canadian translation in communications and technology components.
Acknowledging Achievements While Advancing Customer Experience
Although largely a non-awards-based program, year-end rewards did double duty by both recognizing achievements and advancing marketing goals with site-enhancing amenities.
Wrapped refrigerators for locations that earned their top-performer status also improved the waiting room experience for customers. Additional branded awards like toolbox magnets and apparel with the program logo helped build awareness among all dealer employees. Recognition elements help reframe compliance requirements into opportunities to demonstrate commitment.
Seeing Strong Results in a Phased Approach
Continually raising the bar in a phased approach helps build independent dealers’ belief in the program and align toward long-term strategic goals. Participants remarked there were improvements in the following areas as a result of the program’s first year of operation:
- Process: Better documented, streamlined and standardized processes improved consistency.
- Signage: Professional branding created a better flow at service sites and continuity in look and feel across locations.
- Customer Experience: Customer-centric practices increased awareness of customer perception, driving toward improved uptime.
- Planning: Analyzing gaps brought focus to strategic conversations for developing department-specific plans.
The ultimate impact of a standards program extends well beyond evaluating whether a partner checks a box. Consistent excellence in standards categories will ultimately increase our client’s brand recognition, drive growth and accelerate profitability for them and their channel.
A strong correlation exists between locations achieving top performer status with complete loyalty to the brand. The more standards attained in the program, the more loyal they are to the brand.
84% of the manual standards were submitted across the most recent year (74% the previous year)
25% of the bottom-tier dealers shifted into a higher level of performance against their profitability metrics by participating in the program
97% of survey respondents indicated they are recommending and successfully selling the brand’s products
88% indicated the program is on par with or exceeds competitor programs