Keys to retail resurgence are better tools, TLC, says Ford dealership

The dealership expanded its service facility, increasing the number of technicians to 30 from 12, Carle said. A digital database was added, enabling the dealership to communicate with customers by short message service (SMS) notifications, schedule appointment follow-ups and ensure uniformity in prices charged for services.

This year, Carle said, the dealership is forecasting record sales: 1,150 new vehicles and 500 used. That amounts to a 24-per-cent market share in Gatineau, which has a population of about 300,000.

Dozens of “little things” build staff engagement and customer satisfaction, Carle said, and most are simply common sense.

“We don’t build spacecraft; we sell cars,” he said. Dominic Sigouin, president of Noahvik Consultants near Montreal, said Carle recognizes the need to concentrate on the basics, listening to both customers and employees and responding to their feedback.

“That is the secret ingredient,” Sigouin said. “If you take care of the customer and the employee, everything else will fall into place.”


Six principles inform the company’s approach to building business.

The “aspirational’’ vision, said Carle, is to become the best dealership in the world both in terms of customer and employee satisfaction as well as sales volume. The second principle is to retain its 100-member team and build the structure to create a vibrant working atmosphere.

A key element with staff is transparency, Carle said. “They can tell me anything. If they scratch a door outside, they can run in and tell me. It’s important to never lose your cool.”

The third principle is to apply discipline to achieve a consistently smooth operation with the least possible guidance from senior managers. Results are better when employees are allowed to make their own decisions, Carle said.

“If you give them direction all the time, they won’t grow.”

The first three principles all lead to the fourth, Carle said: “a beautiful, fluid structure” with colleagues who have satisfaction at the heart of the customer journey.

“Every actor in the dealership must have an open heart and trust in the customer,” he said.


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