A Car That I Would Buy… Some Lessons For the Auto Industry from Southwest Airlines

If the US auto industry wants to save themselves, they might want to take lessons from Soutwest Airlines. That’s right, SWA. Why, because much of the things that GM does is exactly the opposite of what Southwest does, and that’s why we don’t have any loyalty.

So what could a car company do to make themselves “the Southwest of Cars”.

  • Put out an easy to maintain product set. SWA keeps costs down by having a fleet of all 737s. This keeps costs down because parts inventories are reduced, training costs are reduced, and mechanics only need to develop expertise on one product.The auto industry puts out cars that now are computers specializing as cars. Because these cars have computers, it would make sense to have a diagnostic tool that an average layman could understand, and be able to access, by a USB cable, or 802.11 WIFI. Instead a whole industry is developed around developing costly tools that the average person can’t afford, let alone use. They keep us out of the know, and make us subject to their determinations of the issues, and high prices.
  • Trim a product line down to 2 cars: A sedan and a station wagon. Keep everything else the same. A simple engine with a decent amount of power, a decent radio (put a headphone input jack in), and a nice quality inside. Don’t offer options on mechanics, and offer options on trim that are fairly priced.

  • Fair Pricing for Repairs. Southwest isn’t always the cheapest, but the rules on pricing, standbys and upgrades are easy to understand, and more importantly they are fair. Southwest sets up their pricing structure so that people know what to expect when making upgrades or transfers. Your $150 flight doesn’t end up costing you $900. They have also set up the system so that customers can’t cheat one another, by taking advantage of the pricing rules.Automobile dealers get commission on the amount of cars they service, and the prices they charge. They are incentivized to charge you more, and there is little to deter them ripping you off. They control the information.
  • The Internet changed the way that the buying process worked for the auto industry. The average buyer is aware of how much the car should cost them. But we’re still in the dark on repairs. That’s wrong. Let’s make the diagnostic and repair pricing process open, affordable, and transparant.

  • Don’t Gouge us On Parts Prices: If a car breaks, it shouldn’t be something that makes a car dealership super profitable.  Car dealers  get rewarded in the short term for putting out a substandard product. In the long term, we go to Toyota and Honda, because while their prices may be expensive as well, the total cost of ownership, and amount of mental anguish is less.
  • Long Term Bumper to Bumper Warranties: Auto companies, back up your quality with a 120,000 bumper to bumper warranty. If you can’t products with components that last more than 36001 miles, then you should pay us for the repair. Keep in mind also, that if my car breaks, I’m going to need a rental.
  • Stop Those Quality Surveys: Your quality surveys are bull, and everybody knows it. Everytime I bring my car in, I get a call from someone reminding me to give them an excellent on the review. I would be shocked if I had an “excellent” experience with an auto service dealer. Sorry, but free coffee and donuts, and a color TV in the waiting room don’t cut it for me.
  • I know that what I want is not what everybody wants. Some folks like to fly First Class rather than to deal with Southwest’s fair and democratic seating arrangement. I’m just giving a business model that could make the auto companies get new business.

    Hopefully, someone will hear this, and they will have me as a customer for life.

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