I bet you have never said, “Yes! I get to take the car to get serviced today.” For most of us, going to the car dealership is no fun. The team at Toyota of Olympia wanted to change this by putting the fun into any service – whether it be a quick oil change or a major repair. When they designed their new location in Tumwater, the service department received a complete overhaul to give their customers the best experience possible.
Mike Beyer and Fred Chase, the service managers at Toyota of Olympia, were the perfect team to make this happen. Mike has been with the dealership for 27 years. He started as an apprentice technician in service and worked his way up through the service department ranks. Fred has worked at Toyota of Olympia for 17 years and came up on the service advisory side of the department, giving them the unique ability to understand the customer experience from start to finish.
“Since we had out grown the old location as soon as it was remodeled, we wanted to make sure we designed our new location with growth in mind,” says Mike. “And of course, we wanted to better the experience for our customers.”
For starters, they knew they needed more space. The team went from 18 bays at the old location to 32 bays at the new dealership, almost doubling the number of customers they can help at any given time. This helped the team cut down on wait times for larger repair appointments from over two weeks to just three to four days.
An Experience Upgrade
You’ll feel the difference from the time you drive onto the lot. No longer are there separate lanes for different types of service. Now, everyone starts in the same location, avoiding a common confusion from the old location.
Service advisors will now meet you directly at your vehicle. “We are slowing the write-up process down just a bit, so that the customer can engage with the right person and talk about what’s wrong with their vehicle at the beginning,” Mike explains. A little extra time up front saves questions and phone calls later.
Toyota of Olympia has also implemented new team colors. Customers now know if they are on the “Red Team” exactly who to talk to. In addition, the service advisors are in one large area, ready to help anyone. “At the old location, if someone had work done in the black office and then went to the red when they picked up, you would have to shuffle them back to the right office,” explains Fred. “Here, no matter what you had done on your vehicle, somebody will be able to help you out.”
Inside the service bays, Toyota of Olympia made design changes to save time. For example, the tool crib previously was in the corner of the shop, a long walk for techs to access tools. At their new location, the crib is in the center. “You don’t think it would make much of a difference, but if a tech is changing four tires,” says Mike, “over the course of the service, that tech saved ten minutes. When you add it up, we now have time to service another vehicle’s tires.”
A large pit under the Express Lube area makes moving around easier, too.
The Challenge of Newer Vehicles
In the last three decades, Mike has seen a lot of changes in vehicles. “Just as an example, when I first started, car radios had two knobs and you have the choice of listening to Casey Kasem or The Bee Gees,” laughs Mike. “Now your car will make a reservation to a restaurant, tell you how to get there and even call the restaurant for you. This is just one example of the level of technology we now have in vehicles. And, this makes repairs lengthier because you have to access all that stuff they have hidden in the car.”
On some Toyota Siennas, he explained, in order to change the spark plugs you have to remove the window wipers, wiper motor, and the cowl so you can take the intake manifold off to reach three of the plugs. On an older Sienna, it typically took an hour to replace spark plugs. For some of the new vehicles it can take four. This means the team needed to think outside the box on ways to save customers’ time. “We made a lot of internal process changes to enhance customer experience and get services done faster,” says Fred, but he’s quick to note that none of these changes compromises Toyota quality service.
Innovative Technology Trims Wait Time
Toyota of Olympia is also updating its computer systems. Previously, a technician had to walk to the parts counter and write log of what was needed for a repair. The parts department looked it up, then the tech would visit the service advisor who would find labor times on a separate system to assemble the repair quote. Finally, a call to the customer was made for approval.
The new system streamlines communication between the technician, parts department and service advisor. Right from the service bay, a tech can look up parts needed as well as labor times for the repair, electronically alerting the service advisor of the repair and cost quote. This process alone saves at least ten minutes per customer Mike estimates. Once approved by the customer, a notice pops up on the technician’s computer to proceed with the repair right away, while the car is still in the bay. The parts department is also alerted and the correct parts can be delivered directly to the tech.
“It’s all about increasing capacity and saving our customers’ valuable time,” explains Fred. To that end, they have also expanded repair services to seven days a week and continue to offer Express Lube seven days a week as well for all makes and models.
Personnel were also added, upgrading from 14 to 20 technicians in the Express Lube bays. “This cut waiting time down significantly,” Mike adds. And, they are still hiring. If you are interested in working for Toyota of Olympia, you can apply online at the Toyota of Olympia website.
To schedule a service or repair, visit the Toyota of Olympia website or call the service department at 360-539-4000.
Toyota of Olympia
6969 Tyee Dr. SW in Tumwater
Service hours: Monday-Sunday 7:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.