Delivering customer service – at least the way it is practiced in most companies – is easy. The customer asks you for something, and you give it to them. Hopefully, the sales and service people are pleasant and helpful. But judging from past experience, that is apparently optional.
Building a culture that is obsessed with serving customers is hard. You have to create an environment where people are motivated and engaged. Processes must be implemented and continually refined that allow you to be faster, better, cheaper, and friendlier. People have to be passionate about excellence even on days when they find their jobs to be something of a pain.
Carl Sewell’s family of auto dealerships is at or near the top for sales and service with the brands they represent for one simple reason: They are the best at sustaining a culture that serves customers.
The Message that Put Me in a New Car
I wasn’t looking to fight the crowds for a new car in December. I was perfectly happy with both of my autos, and the lease on my 2011 RX350 didn’t expire until the end of February 2014.
That changed when I received an email and text from the folks at Sewell letting me know that (1) they wanted my vehicle; and (2) they would make it worth my while to trade now.
The result was a conversation with Linda Arnold, my friend and sales rep at Sewell for many years. Linda worked up an offer sheet based on what she knew about me and my vehicle without me stepping foot in the dealership.
Based on that quote, I dropped by on a Saturday. About an hour later, I left with a handshake deal on a new vehicle that actually lowered my payment with nothing out of pocket at closing.
Why I Really Purchased this Vehicle
The reason I purchased from Sewell isn’t the car or even the deal. It is the people.
Other dealerships would have offered a similar financial deal. Everyone runs a sale on cars in December. There is even another very fine Lexus dealership that is equally close to where I live. If Sewell knew the value in my 2011 vehicle, others would as well.
The reason is that no one does service before, during, and after the sale better than Sewell. Here is an example from my experience with my new vehicle:
- The sales process was extremely easy. I trusted to Linda to treat me fairly and there was no need for haggling over minor details. It would have actually taken less than an hour for us to work out the deal except that Linda suggested that I might actually want to drive the new model to see the differences.
- At the closing, Linda, synced my phone and uploaded my contacts to the Bluetooth system on the auto. That is cool, but lots of people do that.
- Linda went a step further by taking a photo of the radio presets on my old vehicle and then loading them into the on my new vehicle.
- Cecily McClarin has assisted me with every closing since I purchased my first Sewell Lexus in 1989. She is completely prepared. Most important, the experience isn’t just painless. It is actually enjoyable. I was in and out in about 20 minutes.
The Sewell Difference
Over 75 people responded to the photo of my new vehicle posted on Facebook. One person wrote that he remembered reading Sewell’s Customer for Life book back in the 1990’s and found the principles to be simplistic.
The principles are simple. They include things such as:
- Ask the customer what they want and give to them
- Systems not smiles
- Fire your inspectors and your customer relations department
- Treat people with respect and find ways to say “yes”
- Do it right the first time
- Pay more to save more
- Develop service superstars
The difficult part is executing those principles at every level every day. That’s what makes Sewell the best at what they do. It is what makes for results to remember.