Donnie Crevier Featured

8:00pm EDT August 26, 2007
Donnie Crevier was never a privileged heir. Though his father and uncle founded Crevier BMW 36 years ago, he didn’t glide through a life ripe with undeserving spoils. On the contrary, his adolescence was an exercise in challenge and resolve. The admittedly “rough, little kid” spent time involved in various youth organizations, where he learned how to feel better about himself and the decisions he was making, he says. Now decades later, Crevier, president and CEO of Crevier BMW, is all about making others feel better about themselves. He is actively involved in the Boys and Girls Clubs of Laguna Beach and Santa Ana, as well as Career Beginnings and the Orange County Human Relations Council. In addition to his own efforts, Crevier encourages his 300 employees to get involved in various organizations and nonprofits, as well. This participation has not only benefited the community but has also helped drive his dealership to $269 million in annual revenue and 12th place on the Ward’s Dealer 500, a list of the nation’s 500 largest dealers. Smart Business spoke with Crevier about how to always stay on the lookout for “happy,” how encouraging community involvement benefits everyone and why the customer’s perception is everything.

Get involved in the community. For any of us that have had the good fortune of financial success, it’s our responsibility to give back and help support organizations that can strengthen our culture and young people and inspire people to be successful themselves.

Some of the most important things in many companies are character and commitment. I donate a lot of time and resources and try to demonstrate the kind of character and commitment in other areas that we’re hoping to drive in our team.

We encourage our people to get involved with nonprofits on their own. We want them to be on boards. We want them to help organizations because we think it helps them feel better about themselves, and we think it can also help their careers.

You’re going to meet people in these organizations. You’re going to be able to develop business through those meetings. It’s a networking system. It’s a winwin for everybody. The organization wins. The employee wins. They feel good about themselves, and they may also reap some business benefit. It benefits them indirectly because business might be better because of it.

People relate to people that they think are being helpful throughout the community. People like that and tend to support businesses that are supporting nonprofits and helping the community. A lot of it we’re doing because we want to do it, but it does have a positive impact on business along the way.

Exceed customer expectations. Have customer satisfaction indexes that every customer is interviewed and followed up with. We have ways of monitoring that and making sure that our customers are being taken care of the way that we want them to.

We get results from these surveys daily.

If there’s ever any issue with the way a customer’s been cared for that is not to the level that they’re entitled, then we take steps to correct it.

If customers have issues, maybe the issues are not really our responsibility, but they’re perceived as our responsibility in the consumers’ eyes. In most cases, we will make that customer happy as a result, in spite of our responsibility.

It’s not black and white here. It’s kind of how the customer perceives the situation. If the customer perceives that they were mistreated or something wasn’t done fairly here, we remedy it quickly. We do everything we can to exceed the customer’s expectations.

The happier the customers are, the better business grows.

Look for happy people. You constantly have to be trying to find the right people to grow. That seems to be the single hardest objective of all — to find the kind of people that fit in to your culture and are going to be able to represent you to your clients the way you want to be represented.

We look in all industries, not just our own. We look throughout all business industries for opportunities to find people with the right attitudes, the right character and the right commitment.

I’m after happy. I’m after happy people. People either see the glass half full or half empty. You’re happy or unhappy, and I don’t know that we as employers can change that.

Look for it on the surface, in people that just sort of breed or enthuse happy, and an ability to relate to people.

The initial thing would be just through your first interaction. Then have them interviewed by three or four (employees) and make sure everybody sees the same thing.

We want their input. Plus, we want them looking for those kinds of people every day, in every little thing that they come in contact with in their personal lives. If they come across someone in a different industry that has a wonderful way about them and the character and the attitude that we’re looking for, then we might reach out.

Your people are the assets of the whole operation. Finding the right people is a constant endeavor, and it’s not easy.

Look at every detail. Don’t assume things are going to operate smoothly. You’ve got to constantly keep an eye on everything. I know that sounds microish. To be very candid, I am a little microish. I measure and monitor continually. I watch every detail as close as I can without demonstrating micromanagement.

Have management meetings weekly. Constantly monitor progress and evaluate ways to improve progress and efficiency and customer relations and employee relations. Inspect what you expect continually.

It can be very tedious. That’s not the Harvard way, but I’m always working to improve the process.

HOW TO REACH: Crevier BMW, (714) 835-3171 or