Visit Dick Genthe Chevrolet for an oil change, tire rotation and multi-point inspection, and you won’t even get out of the car. The service is performed in 15 minutes and is one of the keys to the dealership’s success in the Detroit area.

“Detroit is a little bit different market,” says Bruce Genthe, president of the Southgate, Mich.-based dealership. Indeed, the region is home to thousands of people who work for the Big 3 auto manufacturers and receive significant auto discounts as a result. Quiet simply, a loyal Ford employee is not going to buy a Chevy. The question becomes, how does one Chevy dealership outshine another? The answer: superior service, Genthe insists.



Stay in the Car

Genthe Chevrolet, a family owned business for nearly 100 years, added a certified express service center three years ago when the dealership was remodeled. The service center helps set the dealership apart from its nearby Chevrolet competitors, Genthe says. 

“It’s like a pit stop,” Genthe describes of the service center. “The customer stays in the car. At first, they didn’t believe it was possible. They were coming into the dealership with their lunches.”

But Genthe was committed to providing the service in significantly less time than needed at the typical oil change locations. He also believes superior service is the differentiator when it comes to retaining customers. “Service is all that matters after the sale,” he notes. “You only have one commodity that’s irreplaceable and that’s time.”

At first, the dealership was performing about 20 oil changes a day, a figure that has more than doubled today, he says. But the express service center is not the only component of the dealership’s service offerings. Genthe Chevrolet has 18 service and five body technicians along with a team of assistants and support staff that handle more serious repairs.

“We’re likely to get the customer back if we earn it,” says Brad Wise, general manager for Genthe Chevrolet. “We are not competing against other dealers or vehicles in our market, we are competing against our competitors’ staffs. If our team is more motivated and prepared versus our competition, we win.  How do you drive loyalty is the biggest challenge.”

In addition to the Chevrolet dealership, the Genthe family operates Honda and Kia dealerships, both of which are located within a few miles of the Chevy location. A Honda Power Sports dealership, which sells a range of motorcycles, snowmobiles and ATVs, is located inside the Honda dealership.

The Chevrolet dealership also has an indoor delivery center where people can see their new vehicle during delivery – a unique feature not found at most dealerships, Genthe says.


Motivation, Training

Wise says quality service would not be possible without exceptional staff. “My goal is to have the very, very best people,” says Wise, who spent 27 years at a Chicago area dealership before moving to Michigan.

Wise says a primary goal is to motivate and train young sales representatives. “I’m getting them to recognize the incredible opportunities that exist,” he says. “You get 100 percent of what you put into this job. Constant counsel and training is the key. Too many dealerships just throw unprepared people out on the front line with no direction. Along with sales and service training, I like to incorporate motivational training such as Tony Robbins or Ted talks.” 

Another goal for Wise is developing an effective marketing program. That initiative includes highly targeted direct mail, data mining, text messages, phone calls and promotional mailings, he says. The targeted mail is aimed at customers who recently have been in for service or those who have equity in their cars and might consider purchasing a new vehicle, Wise says.

The dealership is among the top 200 Chevrolet dealerships in the country, and in the last two years sales are up more than 70 percent, but Wise is never satisfied. “We wake up every morning and incorporate as many best practices as we can,” he says.

Genthe joined the family business in 2000 and took over for his father, Richard, six years later. But he had to learn all aspects of the business first.

“I worked in all the departments,” Genthe recalls. “You name it, I worked in that department.” 

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