On replacing hundreds of thousands of defective Takata airbag inflators while keeping up with other fixed ops work
The service capacity now is in good shape. We had a blip in the second quarter, with the CX-9 and CX-7 control arm recall that we did. The control arm was easy to fix, but every one of those you have to throw on an alignment rack, and you just ate up a bunch of time.
We're still looking at ways to improve service capacity, with things like mobile technicians. But generally, the service departments have been operating really well.
On Mazda's service retention rate
It's staying in the high 50s. When you have to drive by two or three Toyota stores or Honda stores to get from your house to a Mazda dealer, along with three Walmarts and 12 Jiffy Lubes, I don't really know that our service retention will ever be as strong as Honda's. Honda is the gold standard. But having it in the high 50s is the key — and holding it steady there.
On Mazda's low scores in J.D. Power service-satisfaction surveys
There is a problem there. It's the cumulative effect of a lot of little things: facilities, service scheduling, communication of charges. We've been trying to focus our in-dealership consultations on making sure those processes are correct.
We have 100-plus dealers that we've been really focusing on to improve those processes. Those stores look good. Now we just need to facilitate that same level of consultation throughout the stores.
On the service elements of Mazda's "retail revolution" initiative
It's an interaction between the whole dealership and the service department. It's transparency. It's desks in the drive versus offices. It's quick-door for places that deal with weather.
It's all about making that experience as quick and easy as possible. Pre-stage service loaners, scheduling and then the after-sale thing with genuine Mazda accessories. All that stuff comes together.
On Mazda technicians
Mine are probably in two groups: very senior guys with a high level of skill and then a lower level who are new to the market. We're missing that in-between, 10-year tenured mechanic. I don't know if that's an industry trend or a Mazda trend.
When one of these senior guys retires, it takes more than one of the junior guys to replace them. I'm also seeing that with the amount of heavy service work going down, a lot of those senior guys are enjoying doing expanded roles.
On corporate efforts to improve service advisers
We're getting ready to restart a program that partners with the dealer on retention of good service advisers and graduating guys who need improvement into this program.
When the program ended last March, we had about 40 percent of our service advisers in it. Those advisers not only had better internal customer satisfaction scores, they had better retention, they had better longevity, and they made more money.
We're also using third parties to give us the best service consultations possible. We had in-house trainers who were great on the technical, hands-on stuff, but it was hard for them to execute the soft skills of a service adviser.
On the prospect of picking up and dropping off owners' service vehicles
I would much rather have a dealer give them a loaner, let them experience the newest Mazda model with the newest Mazda technology.
On messages to customers
We're trying to use data to make the communication with service customers relevant. If you bought your car yesterday, I don't need to send you a free service oil change coupon tomorrow.
On Mazda's accessories business
It's struggling. We've gotten rid of a lot of accessories that were just business fillers and focused on what improves the brand — high-value items like racks for SUVs and high-quality floor mats. The numbers are down a little bit, but the quality of the business is good.
The accessories business is tough. The challenge is to build stuff that people want and buy.