Significance: Johnson attempted to mimic the same type of atmosphere & store setup that made Apple retail stores so successful – quality merchandise coupled with an elegant shopping experience at Penney. Does this sound like what the OEMs are pushing and insisting that franchise dealers do at their stores and with their sales practices? You better believe it.
Ron Johnson as a Dealer Principal or GM: Just imagine a dealership looking like a scene at your favorite Mac store. People everywhere, looking at vehicles, test driving, getting training, asking young, knowledgeable males and females all kinds of questions and seeking demos and apps — or immediately concluding a sales process that begun online and is ready to finalize and deliver the vehicle. Dealerships need to be more like a Mac store.
Better Yet Make Him a Dealer: Sell him an automotive retail franchise ASAP. Give him a free hand and back his ideas, plans, and objectives. Let him do the Apple “thing” — only better, more, and immediately.
Getting Penney off the Dime: Johnson in one way or another did get Penney to take a good look at what they were doing and what was NOT working — and to ultimately make changes to meet the needs and shopping habits of younger people and with its seniors. Penney is not off the dime and can expect to see more losses and revenues shortages.
What Johnson would do for automotive? What he did for Apple to the core. Fresh thinking, creative store setup and design, new sales process, classic customer service, and making it cool to go to a dealership to buy a car. He will do things that haven’t been done before and do them right away.
The Dealership of 2015: Dealership sites should look like Amazon including a store model. This will enable vehicles to be really sold over the Internet with buyers being tracked and qualified as they proceed down the purchasing funnel so that when they finally “buy” either the retailer will deliver the vehicle to the new client at their home or office or will schedule a one hour max delivery at the dealership.
The New Dealer Management Team for the Decade: The best of Apple, Amazon, John Deere, and Zappos is what it will be. The best of what we all like about today’s dealerships will survive: the showroom, test drives, and the smell of a new car. Visionary leaders and managers like Ron Johnson are perfect to plan and execute this new dealer business model perfectly. The traditional dealership model will only survive if it becomes a full service transportation center that has a customer service policy and practice that works like an Apple Store with the OEM being right there as well.