Fresh Thinking at This Lexus Dealership Leads to Growth & Incredible Customer Loyalty
Bruce Kirkland had no background in the auto industry when he was talked into setting up a Lexus dealership.
Thirteen years later, Lexus of Edmonton West is one of the most successful car dealerships in the country, largely because he didn’t have auto industry experience.
He came at it with a fresh perspective, and was able to challenge the conventional thinking about what a customer experience was “supposed” to be like in a car dealership.
In today’s Frank Reactions Podcast, Kirkland discusses how he shook up the business model, adding features like:
- an in-house spa to make the visit pleasant while you wait for your car to be serviced,
- a grand piano in the showroom, played by music students from a local university,
- monthly hosting of a charity event in the dealership, at no expense to the charity.
Fundamentally, the store’s success comes down to one core belief:
He quickly learned that the way things were “always done” in the industry had to change.
It made for a rough beginning, having to move old-guard salespeople out of the company and replacing them with people from the hospitality industry.
Culture is Crucial
Great customer experience starts with hiring people with the right attitude, and training them in a customer-focused culture.
“Culture training” happens every week at Lexus of Edmonton. And new staff are taught the 3 pillars of what makes the dealership successful:
- That everybody have an outstanding purchase and service experience.
- Look after guests as though they were guests in our home. Ditto for the people we work with.
- Give back to the community.
No Departmental Silos
Everyone who works at the company affects the customer experience, so it is vital that they all collaborate and value each others’ skills.
I wrote in PeopleShock about the auto dealer who’s shuttle driver had great ideas about how they could provide better customer service with fewer vans and drivers, but nobody wanted to hear what a lowly driver had to say.
Kirkland and his team understand that great ideas come from everyone, and he’s set up a culture where it is clear that the “unsung heroes” are every bit as important as the sales staff.
Many companies start running into silos and the related customer service problems when their staffing levels hit about 100 people. Kirkland’s shop is now at about 127, which is why it is especially important that staff are encouraged to go get to know the people in all the other areas.
Also in This Podcast Episode
We covered a lot of ground; so much so that I’ve split the interview into two parts. In this part, we also discussed:
- How they’ve thrived even during the recession. (We talk more about this in part 2 as well.)
- What happened when he tried to eliminate negotiation with customers and have all-in-pricing.
- Why you shouldn’t be afraid of a bad customer review. (And how you should deal with it.)
- More unique ways they’ve created a differentiated customer experience.
And stay tuned for Part 2, coming up in two weeks. To be sure you don’t miss it, why not subscribe to the podcast (on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts) and/or sign up for the Frank Ideas newsletter in the box below.