In my recent travels, I went to Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan. A few things struck me: just how space efficient and clean everything was.
I visited the famous Tsukuji wholesale fish market. To my surprise, there was no smell of fish. The local sushi restaurant (where I lined up at 4 am for the 1st seating at 5 am) served their sushi on the countertop. Yes, the countertop was so clean that you could literally eat off the table!
Now, onto the infamous toilet seat.
I was training a dealer in the Northeast (and yes, I still do training). I mentioned to my consultant who was accompanying me that he should invest in a $1,000 toilet seat to replace his current one. I had caught him off-guard, and he burst out laughing, unable to contain his laughter. He wanted to know why, and I explained to him all the things that this seat did; I decided to tell him the story of visiting a Shinto shrine in Japan.
When I wanted to use the public restroom at the Shinto shrine, they wanted me to take my shoes off. The thought of doing that in the public restrooms of the US would have appalled me! I did it anyway and was surprised to find spotless bamboo tile flooring with no paper towels on the floor. There were also bamboo sandals that we could wear to use the toilets. The toilets had bidets in them too. The cleanliness of the whole affair totally impressed me, to the point that when I got back to the US, I did some research and found this $1,000 toilet seat that converts a regular toilet into a bidet.
At the dealership I was training, my consultant had already shared my “story” with all the dealership personnel. For a short while, I became the brunt of their jokes, until everyone saw this promotional video for the toilet seat.
Now, why am I writing about a blooming toilet seat? What Toto (the toilet seat company) shows us is that if you step back, look at any product or process, and get rid of the underlying assumptions, you can innovate just about anywhere. This is sorely needed in automotive service. We need to get rid of our assumptions and create innovative products and services that eventually bring convenience and luxury to the customers.
Author: Ujj Nath
Ujj Nath is the Founder and CEO of myKaarma (www.mykaarma.com), the cloud-based conversational commerce software that’s revolutionizing the auto service industry. He has 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and automotive industry executive. In 1990, prior to myKaarma, Ujj founded Syncata, a major provider of business consulting and systems integration services. In 2004 he successfully negotiated the sale of the company to ProQuest Business Solutions (NYSE: PQE), which was subsequently acquired by Snap-On Tools (NYSE:SNA). At Snap-On, Ujj was Vice President of Global Accounts and headed the Professional Services Organization for Snap-on Business Solutions. He can be reached at email@example.com.