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Remarkable service

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I am blessed to call Bruce Kirkland, Dealer Principal at Lexus of Edmonton a friend. I am in awe of his community support and how he continually instils excellence in his team, by delivering Remarkable Service to Lexus of Edmonton’s valued customers (aka Guests). During an interview with X5 Management, Bruce shared his perspective on Customer Service excellence and it was just too great to not be captured in this post.

Are there one or two things that are extremely important in maintaining a high level of customer service?

Bruce Kirkland, Lexus of Edmonton“I really think that there are not just one or two things, because I really believe it’s a puzzle, and you have to put the puzzle together; to make it go correctly. I would say a couple things; One is to hire correctly. Lexus of Edmonton has this amazing culture of customer service and relationships. We hire very carefully to protect our culture and I’m not afraid to hire people that have no car experience, in fact I’d rather hire people without any car experience. If someone has been in the customer service business somewhere else, those skills are transferable. A lot of people are afraid to do that. Secondly, you have to make sure the people you hire have pride in what you do. We make sure that everyone in our dealership knows what’s expected of him or her. So we have to communicate with them clearly. You have to make sure that they’re involved in the process of why we’re doing what we’re doing, not just telling them just be nice. It’s a long process but hire correctly. Make sure they are trained correctly. We make sure they all go through culture training, and that training is run by myself and Matt Miller, our GM.”

How do you get that team of people involved and maintain your focus on customer service?

“A couple of things have to happen: It can’t be top down. If it’s top down, it’s not going to work. We do many things at Lexus of Edmonton. One of the things that I am particularly proud of is called Opportunities and Challenges. Every year the management team gets together and looks at all opportunities and challenges. Every year we ask each department to do the same thing, so these people come up with opportunities and challenges and they become engaged in that process. They come up with a lot of opportunities and challenges and I think that’s really important that it’s grass roots up and our people are really happy to be involved. Top down doesn’t work with any organization, so make sure they’re engaged. Make sure you train them. A lot of times in our industry (or any industry) we tell people to do their job, but we don’t train them….Just go do this! We believe in internal training and we believe in external training. Training is key to our success! Our sales team has training either Thursday or Friday morning for 30 minutes every week. We plan on expanding that to our whole team.

We call people guests. We don’t call them customers because the way we treat people, they are in our house. At Lexus of Edmonton we call them guests because of how would you like to be treated in our house. Little things like opening the door for them and walking them to the door. Greet them! It’s the little things that make the biggest difference for sure. Every touch point is critical for success of customer service. It’s not just selling the car, that’s easy part. It’s how they are greeted when they come in to the business. How does reception treat them? The two most important people in my dealership are reception and detailing. Some people come in here and say the car is great, but it’s dirty so every touch point is absolutely critical and I think sometimes that in our business we forget about that. I always say here, under promise and over deliver and if we can under promise and over deliver, and wow them, then it’s way better than overpromising and not delivering. I think every touch point in your business is critical and so don’t forget about the people who you don’t think need training. The whole staff needs training, not just management needs training. It’s great that managers are trained, but I think the entire team needs training. If you do that they’re going to be engaged.

Spend money on training!! It makes your staff better and you are investing in them, and they feel you are investing in them.

They’re going to want to do it. They’re going to take pride in working here and making sure that they could do that.

You have to empower them. A lot of companies don’t empower people. I empower my staff to make decisions. They don’t have to run to me to make a decision, so make a decision. If that decision is the best for the customer; then let’s make that decision; let’s not wait around and have to go through three layers to make a decision.”

How do you actively manage the customer experience?

“It’s a little more difficult to manage it all but if your teams trained right then you will be fine. We do all sorts of different things here because we really believe that it’s the whole experience in any company. I tell my team, don’t worry about the car…the car will take care of itself. Let’s worry about the people in front of us. It’s what we call the whole Lexus experience. It’s the little things that we do. We have many events for our guests; anything from wine tasting events for all guests or we’ll have a ladies night at a great restaurant, where we buy them dinner. We do these things to keep them engaged and to experience WOW!

At special occasions and holidays we make sure they have a little gift on the car seat when they come in. Little things make a big difference. You don’t think they’re big because it’s this beautiful car but it’s the little things that they’re just wowed by. I think that’s one of the things we forget is it doesn’t have to be big sometimes; it just is a little thing that really makes your guests, very very happy.

Your staff has to be engaged. We have great pride here.

Lexus has a competition, and every month we review that with our staff. It’s called The Pursuit of Excellence. It’s a competition among all the dealers in Canada. Every month at the start of the month we have a kick-off meeting and explain where we are at and what we need to work on. We’re fortunate that we have an amazing team and have won this nine years in a row. We always have a BIG celebration!

I think also that you just have to look after people. We reward people when they do a good job. We have an internal reward system and when someone does something well, we recognize and reward him or her.

I get way too much credit: My staff does all the work but you know that they buy into what we do.

We’re very proud and the Pursuit of Excellence is an amazing thing, but you have to communicate with your staff. When you’re in a leadership position if you don’t communicate with your staff and talk to them, you’re not going to be successful. I have to make sure that I do what I expect them to do and it starts at the top.

We do the little things really really well. We have a newsletter called “The Little Things” that goes out each month, because it’s the little things that are going to make the big difference. We do the big things really well. Most companies do the big things well. It’s the little things that they miss.

We are really blessed at Lexus of Edmonton. I am very proud of the team and the job they do. It separates us—we’re different!!”

A BIG THANKS to Bruce Kirkland for taking the time to share these valuable insights with us.

X5 Management specializes in Improving Sales & Service for business. We offer comprehensive Business Consulting Services, Coaching Services and we have an extensive list of Training and Professional Development courses/workshops specific to supporting businesses with Improving Sales & Service. For more information, visit us at x5management.com or contact us at info@x5management.com

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I am very fortunate to work with many business leaders who celebrate great team members at all levels of their organization. It’s not rocket science to understand and appreciate the strengths and value of each and every individual – from the executives in the corner office to the front of house staff.

It seems simple enough, but too often we may skip by someone because they aren’t on the list of people we need to meet or connect with today. Don’t be too hasty. Slow down the process when given an opportunity to meet new people — and ultimately you will build meaningful and lasting relationships.

Do we focus on position and title only? Is it most important to impress the CEO or build a relationship with everyone that you work with?
 Most people work within an organization that has more than one person. (You may be self-employed, a farmer or a retired vice-president, but most likely you can relate to the message I’m sharing.)

In this blog, I’d like to offer some insights into how we can all do a better job of building meaningful relationships with people at all levels and titles. There are only a few fundamentals that if you are patient and consistent and you do them every time, the opportunity to build meaningful relationships will exist.
building-business-relationships-300x200
Don’t limit yourself to the person you THINK you need to meet when building business relationships.
LRT (Like-Respect-Trust)
: This point is a passion of mine and I bring it up often, because it is simple and highly effective. Whether you are meeting the CEO or the receptionist, be likeable, show respect and earn the trust of others, over time. Title, age, gender or background doesn’t play a factor when you truly want to create LRT.

Connection
: As I learned from leadership guru and best-selling author John C. Maxwell, “Connecting is all about others”.
 As Maxwell states in his book Everyone Communicates-Few Connect, “When you are trying to connect with people, it’s not about you — it’s about them. If you want to connect with others, you have to get over yourself.”

Act with intention: 
Every interaction that you have with people you should ideally act with the intent on building a more meaningful relationship. This may occur at your place of work, the dry cleaner, grocery store and at home. Being aware of your intentions helps you in all situations. (Think about your intentions the next time you interact with someone.)

Be genuine: 
The more genuine and natural you are in connecting and speaking with others, the easier it will be to build meaningful relationships with people of all backgrounds, professions and titles.

If you are like me and you truly value people and you want to build relationships for keeps it takes effort, practice and focus. The above tips can work for you in all situations and all locations that you interact with people. Give them a try!
“People who have good relationships at home are more effective in the marketplace.” – Zig Ziglar

Here’s to your business success!

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Service in the Sun

by mikemack on November 28, 2014

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After an amazing week recharging in the sun in beautiful Palm Springs, California I had lots of time to reflect on what Customer Service looked like from my viewpoint.

While it was the week leading into Thanksgiving in the USA and Black Friday shopping specials, the crowds where BIG and hungry for deals. I must admit that overall I was wowed by the level of service in the Palm Springs area. It is known for warm weather and sun, but local businesses seem to get it. They understand that customers will come back when the service is warm and friendly….just like the weather.

Elmer's Restaurant -  Palm SpringsA real treat included a stop at Elmer’s Restaurant. I had the pleasure of visiting Elmer’s about 4 years ago. Their German pancakes are legendary. We arrived on Thanksgiving Day and the parking lot was jam packed. Well, the good news was that they are still popular and people wanted to eat there. 🙂 When we asked for a table of four the focused and very seasoned greeter said to us: “It will be about a TWO minute wait. We smiled and thought…..ya, right. But, to our joy it was less than two minutes. We were whisked to our table and the server was full of life and energy and made us feel right at home. The arrival of our food was perfectly timed and the anticipation of that first bite of a lemon fused German pancake was building. Yum!!!! It exceeded our expectations!!

While we quickly ate the extremely tasty breakfast, new customers were continually arriving and somehow no one seemed to wait long, yet every table was full. What a system…what great service!!!

If you are in the Palm Springs area, I highly recommend you stop by Elmer’s Restaurant for a real treat and amazing Customer Service Experience.

Service in the Sun was alive and well for us. Now we look forward to seeing some great Service in the Snow when we head back to chilly and winterized Edmonton, Alberta. 🙂

I would love your comments or thoughts on this weeks Blog. 🙂

Mike Mack
“Helping Businesses Achieve Sales and Service Excellence”

*Upcoming Speaking and Facilitation engagements for Mike and X5 Management:

Howard Gardiner Associates Chartered Accountants Palm Springs
Can-Cell Distribution Edmonton
Brock Canada Edmonton
Stahl Peterbilt Edmonton
Frank Lyman Design Montreal
Delnor Construction Edmonton
Summit Trailer Edmonton
Productivity Alberta Edmonton

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