Oct. 15, 2007 – Kawasaki working to improve online training

LAS VEGAS — Kawasaki Motors Corp. USA has partnered with a dealership consultant company to reformat its online sales training.
The hope is the new, more interactive format will drive more dealership personnel — not only sales staff — to the online model presentation.
“We think it’s a far, far better product,” than the previous online training version, said Dave Lautner, Kawasaki Motors Corp. USA’s manager of dealer development.
The training was unveiled this past summer and then highlighted during Kawasaki’s recent national dealer meeting.
Kawasaki’s previous online training comprised of just text and “was never really very dynamic,” Lautner said. The new format, developed by Dealership University, includes visuals and audio on one specific model. Dealership personnel are now provided with information on a model’s features and benefits and then are given a test. If 100 percent of the questions are answered correctly, the dealership employee completes the course. If all the questions aren’t answered correctly, the employee is given an opportunity to click on information to review the missed information.
Kawasaki is currently working on a program that will allow a dealer to go onto K-dealer.com to see which staff members have completed the courses, which switch models every 60 days.
Kawasaki also is reviewing whether to add more online training courses in 2008 — perhaps debut a new course every 30 days rather than every 60 days — or add to the length of the courses by adding a second or third model to each training program.
Thus far, Kawasaki has been creating online training courses for new or class-leading models. The current course delves into the company’s new ATV, the KFX 450R, while the next course will detail the Ninja ZX-14.
The courses are not designed just for sales staff personnel, Lautner said, noting Kawasaki strongly believes any dealership employee that has access to consumers should be as knowledgeable as possible about the company’s products.
“That’s one thing different about ours than other OEMs,” Lautner said, “we want everybody to take it.”
Also unlike other OEMs, Kawasaki does not currently tie a sales incentive to the completion of the online courses. That, however, is under review as Lautner said Kawasaki is examining other OEM programs.
“Because most of our competitors’ tie it to the salesperson’s incentive, we feel we’re getting the short end of the stick a little bit,” Lautner said. “Like (dealership employees) will take their Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki courses and say, ‘Well, if I get time, I’ll take the Kawasaki.’”
One change Kawasaki will make with the program is courses will remain online for a much longer period of time than in previous years. That way dealerships that lose staff to turnover can have their new employees take courses on existing model-line products.
Lautner notes the new format also allows the user to print out the text for future and more in-depth study. It’s all designed to end the unfortunate scenario of a consumer entering the dealership with more knowledge than the salesperson or a similar, nightmare retail scene where a dealership’s “credibility is instantly shot,” Lautner said.
“I really believe today that the new format is the best (online training course) available out there,” he said.

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