Chapter 5. Satisfied Customers and Gratified Partners: Direct Touch and Leveraged Influence

“A devastating, horrible mistake.”

That’s how third-generation car dealer Randy Painter described U.S. automaker Chrysler’s decision to sever its relationship with his family’s company. After doing business together for more than 65 years, Chrysler gave Painter just three week’s notice. “This doesn’t happen in the U.S.,” he lamented to The Wall Street Journal.1

But alas it did in 2009, and not to just Painter, but to nearly 800 of Chrysler’s 3,200 other dealers, too. They were told they would be cut from the ranks of Chrysler’s channel partners as part of a last-ditch effort to save the beleaguered company. As Chrysler management saw it, the company ...

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