By Lawrence Papoff
PLANO, TEXAS – Jaguar Plano was not a happy place to work in 2009. According to Automotive News, Jaguar U.S.A. was suing the owner and some employees for alleged warranty-claim fraud. The store needed renovations. Equipment needed repair or replacing. Staff morale was as low as the sales volume.
Things changed dramatically in 2010 after Park Place Dealerships bought the franchise and spent US$1 million on renovations, repairs, new equipment and staff training.
Under the old regime, technicians often had to pay for training. Now, the owners saw to it that workers went to training classes at company expense.
Service writer Garry Shewbirt told Automotive News that the environment changed. “Instead of everybody being their own person, the team came together.”
Park Place chair Kenneth Schnitzer told the magazine: “If you don’t have people who are knowledgeable and well trained to deliver outstanding client service, then you’re wasting your time.”
Schnitzer says he asks employees “What else can I do to help you do your job?” Some take him up on the offer.
In 2012, Automotive News ranked the store number 1 on its list of the Best Dealerships to Work For. There are 48 employees on staff. Plano, Texas is a town of about 275,000 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Canadian AutoWorld wanted to know the recipe for success, so we spoke to store GM Mike Cuzzo.
Canadian AutoWorld: Tell us about your store.
Mike Cuzzo: We are a standalone Jaguar dealership that Park Place Dealerships bought in 2010. We are ranked number three in the U.S. in new-car sales and number one in pre-owned for Jaguar U.S.A. We typically sell about 30 new and 55 pre-owned cars a month.
What staff training is available?
Each and every member we hire – from GM to valet – goes through what we call Foundations. In three days, they get all the Park Place history and processes. It is a jam-packed three days. Then the member returns to each store with OJT or on the job training.
Depending on the job, they go through what we call CERTAINLY training – sales training, phone training. Then they start their individual manufacturer training.
Training is an ongoing thing. We want all of our members to be the best at their position and have the most recent training available to them.
We have our own Park Place University, where a member can request training and schedule it with our corporate trainers. There’s too much on that to explain, but it is extensive.
How do you keep your technicians happy?
We make sure that they have the most recent training as well as a great work environment. We have had no turnover in the shop in the last two years. We keep them busy and do annual pay reviews to make sure they are compensated for their skills and training.
I understand there are bonuses and rewards available to encourage customer-pleasing?
We have weekly and monthly thank-you cards that go out from our managers to those members that have made a difference or picked up where another member was having a hard time.
We also have a member-of-the-month that receives compensation and front row parking for the month.
Annually, we have our Member Awards Ceremony out of the dealership with dinner for all of our dealership employees. We recognize a member from all departments: sales consultant of the year for new and PO; service advisor of the year; dealership support member of the year; coach of the year, etc.
We compensate them with trips home to see family, or a cruise for the member and the spouse. We typically try to cater it to the individual that won.
Can you explain how one of your employees can earn a $50 gas card award?
Earning a gas card is when you do something that makes their fellow members just say “Wow!”
Can you give us some examples where staff has gone above and beyond the call of duty and made fellow staffers say “Wow!”?
Our members do great things daily. We had a client that was upset with his car. It had a mechanical issue on it and he lived 250 miles from the dealership. So one of my managers authorized, at our expense, a hauler to drop off a loan car and pick up his car for service.
Our sales guys will go out to a client’s house and set up their garage and gate openers to make sure they are completely satisfied.
We have had members stop and change tires for clients as well as having a member take a call at closing when the client was panicked and had left their house keys in the car in service and had no way to get in their house. That member went back found the keys and met the client halfway between the dealership and their home.
We hold open a lot of doors and we greet every client with a smile and welcome. If our members are happy they will treat our clients with respect and ensure that they have an outstanding client experience.
Our mission statement is to provide an extraordinary automotive purchase and ownership experience.