Dealership sales staff and Subaru of America, Inc. customer service personnel assist customers with the shopping, purchase and ownership experience. The people who hold these positions receive product training to be ready to consult with customers and help answer questions about new vehicles. Training and preparation for the 2005 Legacy and Outback were especially important because of the number of changes in the vehicles.
Your contact with Subaru is primarily through the dealership, initially through one of its sales consultants. Subaru of America thoroughly trains sales consultants about every new product.
Sales consultants received their training on the 2005 Legacy and Outback through four primary resources:
• 2005 Subaru Ordering Guide book
• Subaru Sales Consultant Guide 2005 binder
• Training videos
• Subaru Academy ride-and-drive
(Editor’s note: These materials are created solely for the use of dealership personnel and are not available to customers.)
The 2005 Subaru Ordering Guide sales-training book can be utilized on a number of levels. By studying it, a sales consultant can learn about the new models, their positioning, their development, new model designations, engineering highlights, new features, dimensions, specifications and more. Familiarity with this guide also enables the sales consultant to share the information when explaining features to customers, particularly when those features are “under the skin.” Examples are the application of different metals in the body and the coverage of the new side curtain airbags when deployed.
Color chips and trim swatches help the sales consultant demonstrate the variety of color and trim choices when only a limited supply of models are in the dealership or when taking customers to the lot is difficult because of inclement weather (a perfect time for a demonstration drive, but not conducive to wandering a dealer lot).
Development of the 2005 Subaru Ordering Guide began months prior to vehicle launch. Trainers poured over preproduction models, determining how to best showcase the 2005 Legacy and Outback. They compared the new Subaru vehicles with competitors, all to provide sales consultants with the most informed method of presenting the Subaru story. Then the book was written, produced and printed, and was ready three months before vehicle introduction.
When sales consultants need a reference book, they often pull out the Subaru Sales Consultant Guide. It has information on each Subaru vehicle, along with details about important systems and features. Warranty information, news articles and a glossary are included in the binder. Also delivered with the binder is a pocket guide, which allows sales consultants to quickly reference Subaru vehicle specifications.
Throughout the model year, sales consultants can add product training materials, additional news items and Subaru Academy handouts to their binders.
The development process for the Sales Consultant Guide also required extensive research, writing, procurement of illustrations and photography, design, layout and printing.
The binder’s delivery to Subaru sales consultants was close to the time that the 2005 Legacy and Outback models were delivered to the dealerships. The binder has complete and up-to-date information on all Subaru models – not just the new ones.
Although Subaru training videos are not mini-productions of feature-length films, in one regard their production requires even greater attention to detail. The videos have to be accurate in the information that they deliver to sales consultants, so that the sales staff is accurate in delivering information to customers.
At the time of writing, three new product videos were being produced for sales consultants. These included one about the new features on the 2005 Legacy and Outback vehicles, one about Symmetrical AWD and one on what’s new for the rest of the Subaru lineup.
The videos are written and produced so that they can be shared with customers, too.
These exciting training sessions usually take place at a racing facility, where the strengths of the vehicles can be demonstrated under controlled conditions. For an overview of typical ride-and-drive training, see the article “Learning Curves” in the fall 2003 issue of Drive or online at www.drivesubaru.com.
The ride-and-drive training for the 2005 Legacy and Outback involved sending approximately 3,600 sales consultants to one of two locations, where they had classroom instruction and driving experiences. The scheduled locations were Arizona Motorsports Park in Litchfield Park, Arizona during May and Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia during July.
Along with the sales personnel, members of the Customer/Dealer Services (CDS) group at Subaru of America also received training on the 2005 Legacy and Outback models. CDS handles customer service requests, questions, concerns and even problems via phone and e-mail. Training enables the representatives to be product advocates.
Training for approximately 50 CDS representatives commenced two to three months before the launch of the new vehicles. Having a complete understanding of the vehicles’ operation, systems and features enables the reps to resolve issues concerning such things as how different features function or what kind of fuel to purchase. The reps also are updated on information such as maximum towing capacities and how to adjust accessories such as roof rack crossbars.
Updates to the department’s contact-tracking data base that uses new model codes help members of CDS better serve customers through more efficient and accurate record keeping. In the meantime, CDS works with advertising and other functions to have on hand the most recent brochures that customers request. Representatives responding to approximately 30,000 calls per year for information and dealer referrals were also prepared with brochures for the 2005 Legacy and Outback.