Psyching Out What Car Dealers Need
Because all new car sales are transacted in a dealer's showroom, dealerships are the lifeline for automakers. At GM, it's Wayne Townsend's job to maintain happy, productive relationships with the dealers who sell the company's numerous lines of cars and trucks. As Director of Dealer Business Process, he is interested in up-to-date, accurate information about what's on the dealers' minds, particularly their attitudes toward the company. That's where Data Desk comes in.
Townsend has been working in the auto industry since 1964, and in addition to GM, he has used Data Desk to investigate dealership issues with Saab and Saturn. He discovered the software through Interclass, a corporate learning exchange group, at a time when his work at Saturn was generating a lot of data, and as he says, "we had all the information but no knowledge." He and several others from Saturn came to Ithaca to get training from Paul Velleman on how to use Data Desk and found the software very effective in helping him understand the implications in the company's data.
Townsend's most recent project with Data Desk is an analysis of a national survey of auto dealers carried out by the National Automobile Dealers Association. "What we were looking for were the five things GM could do to make the largest difference with dealers." The survey data reported on 44 questions designed to measure the attitudes of 3,800 dealers. As he usually does, Townsend made the initial explorations of the data himself, exporting the data from Excel and running regressions. He finds the interactive graphics useful and likes to post side by side such results as regression lines and summary tables, boxplots and multiple boxplots. Once this initial reconnoitering was complete, Townsend turned the data over to one of the GM staff statisticians to refine the analysis, and this second-cut analysis became the basis for his strategic presentation to a group of top GM officers.
Name: Wayne Townsend
Affiliation: General Motors Corporation
Location: Detroit, Michigan