Keys to Becoming a 'Yes' Company

April 1, 2018
You never have to tell your customers no, if your staff works as a team and makes top CSI scores a priority.

At Jay Yarber’s workplace, customer requests are rarely, if ever, met with a “no.” Yarber—the general manager at Prestige Toyota in Mahwah, N.J.—helps make certain of that.

Case in point: Nearly two years ago, a client who had purchased a pick-up from Prestige Toyota had their engine seize on them. Research indicated that the main cause of the engine issue was an improper maintenance procedure by a non-dealership technician.

“We could’ve told the customer, ‘Listen, it’s not our fault,’” Yarber notes. “But, the president of the company decided to buy their car, with a blown engine, at market value. We put them in a brand-new car.

“The customer was ecstatic, and they vowed to never buy a car anywhere else, or service their car anywhere else. We’ve had quite a few instances here where we’ve gone above and beyond for our clients.”

In trying to say “yes” to all customer demands, Prestige Toyota has made a steady rise recently. The dealership’s CSI is now a sterling 97.4, and the facility’s customer retention rate in the service department is nearly 59 percent.

Yarber, who helps oversee 110 employees, explains how Prestige Toyota goes about providing exemplary customer service.

We empower employees to take care of the customer. That’s one of the key components to building a positive culture here. Every one of my staff members has the authority to authorize up to $100 of goodwill toward taking care of a customer. So, if a customer feels like they’ve waited too long in our service department, employees have goodwill to offer the customer. Because, one of the things I’ve learned is, when problems linger, they usually cost a lot more money. So, if we have a disgruntled customer, we take care of them and expedite the resolution of their concern.

We look for new hires with passion, and a friendly disposition. We also look for people who see themselves as learners, always seek ways to grow, and people who are process oriented. Our hiring process is kind of unique; I sit down with my HR department, and we basically lay out a skeleton of what we’re looking for—specific characteristics that we’re looking for in potential employees. HR puts out an ad and does a pre-screen that’s like a 5–10 minute phone interview. Then they’ll decide if a candidate might be a fit for us. Eventually, I’ll have the say of whether we’re going to make a hire.

CSI is part of everyone’s pay plan in the building. In the car industry, as we all know, pay plans drive behavior. So CSI is part of everyone’s pay plan—from the product specialist, to my receptionist to my service advisors. Our goal as far as CSI is to be in the top 10. So, at the end of the month, if we finish above the region, we pay out bonuses; it’s not big, but it’s a sizeable amount for you to do the job.

We try to go above and beyond for our customers, and really be considerate of their time. And, make it convenient for them. We have one of the largest loaner fleets in the country; I have about 150 loaner cars. We offer shuttle service, we offer pick-up and drop-off service, and we offer free car washes for life.

We do in-house surveys on the fixed ops side. When a customer finishes service, we call the customer to find out if their experience was pleasurable, and if there’s anything that we could’ve done better. We take that information and coach our staff; in the service department, we have a meeting. We post our CSI on a daily basis, and look at Toyota’s reporting as it relates to CSI—it allows you a deeper dive into what’s going on and how your customers are being treated. And it’s really actionable.

If a customer gave you a bad survey, I want you on the phone. I want you to call the customer up, and I want you to ask what you could’ve done better to enhance their experience. Nothing confrontational. Say something like, “This is Jay Yarber. I know you recently came in for service, and I had the pleasure of seeing your survey, and I appreciate your honesty. I know you made a critical comment; just for future reference—so I can be better—what are some of the things that I could’ve done differently, to enhance your experience? Because, if you’re not honest with me, then I can’t improve.”