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What can we learn from the McLaren MP4-12C?
Published by Tom Perkins on 27th November 2012
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McLaren is an extremely successful company in the Formula 1 arena, but when they decided to re-enter the road car arena in 2011 with the launch of their MP4-12C, they didn’t get it quite right. As it turns out all businesses, particularly small to medium sized businesses, can learn some valuable lessons from the way McLaren responded.

When McLaren decided to start making road cars again, some 20 years after the release of the massively successful F1 model, they knew they were entering a very competitive marketplace. Ron Dennis and his team clearly put a huge amount of time, effort and resource into making the new car (the strangely named MP4-12C) as good as possible, but as it turned out in initial reviews, the car wasn’t perfect. A number of influential journalists, including Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson and evo’s Harry Metcalfe criticised a number of details about the car.

So how did McLaren respond? Brilliantly is the answer! Not only did they work quickly to fix the issues, but they also offered those improvements as free upgrades to customers that had already bought the car. We’ve seen similar techniques used by Apple with their free operating system upgrades, but not to my knowledge by car makers.

Now I think this is a brilliant technique for a number of reasons. Not only does it generate a massive amount of positive PR for the company, but it also builds a huge amount of goodwill with the company’s customers. By giving its customers a great deal and future improvements as they become available, owners and potential owners can sleep easy at night knowing that they will benefit from the developments McLaren will inevitably continue to make.

So what can we as small or medium sized business owners learn from this example. We all continue to learn (or at least should do), both as individuals and as companies. That increased knowledge and experience can be put to good use, not only improving our offering and service to our customers, but also by helping our past customers to keep up with those improvements and developments. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, not only does this mean a great deal and added value for your customers, but also increased goodwill and positive publicity.

We use a similar technique for our evolve website customers. Any developments, new techniques or improvements that are made over time are offered, free of charge, to any existing clients that we feel will benefit. This means that as new techniques and technologies emerge (which in the world of the web they do frequently) or as our skills and knowledge as a company grows, our customers will benefit as a result.

So what could you do to allow your customers to feel the benefit of your developments? Could you offer free upgrades to your products? Could you improve the way you currently offer your product or service? Do you even agree with the concept of free upgrades? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Tom Perkins

Tom is founder and Creative Director of Custom Studio and evolve. He’s passionate about design, business and giving customers an unbelievable service. When he’s not working, Tom enjoys cycling, squash, good food & wine and anything to do with cars.

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There are 2 comments for this item.
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  1. Steve Till
    29th November 2012

    Nice blog, Tom.  Great customer service certainly puts a company in pole position.  Customers love free upgrades - they lap them up.  Problems may slow suppliers down at first, but how they respond allows them to overtake rivals and see the chequered flag - without a chequered track record.

  2. John Drabble
    3rd December 2012

    Giving SME customers proactive advice on where they can take their web marketing, in a field that is ever evolving, creates a win-win scenario that will forge mutually beneficial collaborative customer/client relationships. Good idea Custom Studio - it will add a lot of value to your customers.

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