Earl Stewart is the owner and general manager of Earl Stewart Toyota in North Palm Beach. The dealership is located at 1215 N. Federal Highway in Lake Park. Contact him at www.earlstewarttoyota.com, call (561) 358-1474, fax (561) 658-0746 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to him on Seaview AM 960, FM 95.9 and FM 106.9, which can be streamed at www.SeaviewRadio.com every Saturday morning between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.
This column was originally published in 2011.
I composed these 10 "commandments" for my car dealership. They didn't come to me in a vision or on a mountain top, but evolved over 43 years as a car dealer.
Most of them evolved over the past decade, which is why I refer to myself often as a "recovering car dealer." But just like the biblical Ten Commandments, they don't do any good unless people know, understand and apply them.
In my dealership, all of my managers and other employees know that we must "walk the talk."
1. Do whatever our customer asks if she believes she's right. It's not important whether our customer is right or wrong, only if she honestly believes she's right.
2. Do what is right for the customer even if you don't have to. Just because we're not required by law or contract to do the right thing is no excuse.
3. If your supervisor is not available, then you do what is the right thing for our customer. All Earl Stewart employees are empowered to spend or do whatever is necessary to do the right thing by a customer. If in 20-20 hindsight you should err, you will not be held to blame because you acted in good faith to make our customer happy.
4. Always answer all phone calls, emails, texts and messages of any kind from our customers ASAP. Nothing angers a customer (or me) more than a delayed or no response from us.
5. All customers must be treated with courtesy and respect at all times. Just because you judge a customer to be unreasonable is no excuse not to treat that customer with courtesy and respect. If you are incapable of dealing with a particular customer, involve your supervisor or me.
6. You will always tell our customers the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I believe in giving every Earl Stewart employee a second chance, except when it comes to dishonesty.
7. Your first loyalty is to our customer, not to Toyota. In the rare case where a dispute arises between our customer and Toyota over warranty coverage, for example, we advocate for our customer. We argue and present the facts on behalf of our customer, but abide by Toyota's decision.
8. You must personally take ownership of our customer's problem. This means that if you are the first person to learn of a customer's complaint or problem, you have the responsibility to stay on top of its resolution until you personally verify that the issue has been resolved. Don't just refer or delegate the problem to someone else even it's outside your department.
9. Promise our customer less than you will deliver. Always be conservative when making promises to your customers. Over estimate the time of a service or the date of arrival of the new car they ordered; under promise and over deliver.
10. Trust your customer as much as you hope he will trust you. We've all been burned by trusting someone who disappointed us, but that's a very small percentage. The fastest way to earn trust is to trust the person you want to trust you. Somebody has to go first. Let it be us.