Efficiency equals excellence

“That is the most amazing bathroom!” my friend said as she walked back into the room.

An incredible women’s bathroom is just one of the many surprises she and I found at this 1 million-square-foot venue, which includes a fitness center, juice bar and lounge, concierge service, spa treatments, massage therapy chairs, makeup consultations, boutique, café, children’s play area, teeth-whitening station, putting green, meditation room, and a wireless business center.

Of course, the big surprise is that all of these amenities are part of Lexus of North Miami. Craig Zinn opened the Taj Mahal of car dealerships in southern Florida in the summer of 2009. Zinn’s reasoning for the opulence in the women’s bathroom is reflective of his approach to the customer: “When I started out working in car dealerships as a teenager, I always had to clean bathrooms. The women’s bathroom was the most neglected mess and a horrible reflection on how customers should be treated.”

Now, Zinn sets the standard for the car-owning experience, and he sets it very high.

Zinn spent plenty of money on this dealership, but it’s the business forethought shown in every detail that makes it amazing. He has found ways to improve every aspect of the connection between company and customer. His consistently high customer satisfaction ratings come from his obsession with integrating efficiency into service and profitability.

Lexus of North Miami is an awesome example of integrating the customers’ needs with the business process. With most dealerships, the profit is in the service. You may sell a customer a car every few years, but he or she will come for service every few months. A dealer can break even on the car sales and profit nicely on oil changes, tire sales, warranty work and collision repair. That is, of course, providing that you bring your car back. This is where Zinn’s integrated approach shows up best.

[Watch Kevin Daum visit Lexus of North Miami]

From the moment you drive your car in for service, you feel like you are driving up to a big hotel. Your first stop is the concierge desk where your immediate car needs are resolved and you are invited to enjoy the wondrous amenities. If you are just dropping off, you will be instantly assigned one of the 140 loaner cars kept on-site. If your needs can be handled in a short period, you are invited to get a massage, work out or hang out in country-club-style leisure.

One would think this type of luxury can only be offered at premium prices for parts and service, but actually, it’s efficiency and forethought that allows Lexus of North Miami to compete with Costco and Wal-Mart on standard parts like tires and any other dealer on service.

Zinn’s service operation has been carefully structured for maximum flexibility and efficiency. The dealership’s high standards in quality and appearance attract and retain the best mechanics, resulting in better performance.

Zinn keeps his pricing down by buying in volume and stocking heavily. Often Zinn is the go-to parts supplier for other Lexus dealerships. He can turn around a repair or service before other dealers get the requested parts. His one-stop approach to car service includes collision. Zinn leveraged his reputation and volume to reduce the claim adjustment process for car damage resulting in three-day savings. This means he moves cars through faster.

I witnessed the results of this efficiency firsthand as the dealership’s service department proactively offered to fix a car for a friend that had accompanied me for my meeting with the general manager. By the time we finished the two-hour meeting, the service manager had assessed the car, obtained insurance approval and handed my friend keys to the loaner car. The whole incident cost my friend nothing but his normal deductible and Zinn picked up thousands of dollars in service work. My friend went back the following week and bought a new Lexus.

While Zinn’s other dealerships may not have the look of a Ritz Carlton, the approach is consistent. When Toyota required the notorious recall fixes, Zinn proactively sent repair teams to customers’ homes to fix the cars rather than waiting for customers to be hassled with appointments and inconvenience. Of course, this also meant that Zinn’s service bays were free to handle more paying customers, as well.

Here is some food for thought on how to integrate your business for experience and efficiency.

  • What aspect of your industry reflects the worst handling of customers?
  • Does your profit structure improve or harm the customer experience?
  • What streamlining would save you money and reduce the hassle factor for customers?
  • What improvements to your business process will give you an edge on your competitors?
  • How does your attitude toward employees reflect in their treatment of customers?

Executives often focus on certain aspects of the business without looking for the good and bad chain reaction results of their decisions. By addressing the desired outcome for the customer and your bottom line together, you can come up with ways to innovate the process and integrate efficiency with an awesome experience for the customer.

KEVIN DAUM is the principal of TAE International and the author of several books, including “ROAR! Get Heard in the Sales and Marketing Jungle,” which is available on bookstore shelves this month. He is a regular speaker and consultant on marketing and book development. Reach him at [email protected], and check out Kevin’s Quest for the Jewish Super Bowl Ring at http://www.awesomeroar.com/.