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March 8, 2010: Getting on the customer’s level

March 8, 2010
Filed under Features

By Karin Gelschsus

Associate Editor


Having to explain to your significant other why you’re $12,000 poorer than when you last left the house is never fun.

Whether it’s a brand new motorcycle or a leather jacket, the guilty feeling one gets after leaving a store with a bigger hole in their pocket than they anticipated is not good for the consumer or the dealership.

That feeling of having spent too much money rarely, if ever, happens in Waldoch Sports, a powersports and power equipment dealership in Forest Lake, Minn. Honesty, integrity and being up front with their customers are significant reasons why the dealership’s Yamaha CSI score is 95.5 in sales and 96.5 in service out of 100.

“We made a conscious decision not to add-on stuff so someone doesn’t leave and think, ‘Boy I just spent more than I wanted to,’” said Barb Waldoch, co-owner of the dealership. “We don’t try to sell them something they don’t need or want. It happens all the time at other places. We have a good reputation. It’s worked.”

Mindset

The inevitable problems will occur, and when they happen, John Waldoch, co-owner, says they need to be addressed right away.

“We’re not fighting over who’s going to deal with them,” he said. “We find out what (the problem) is and what we need to do to make it right. Everyone is on that open page of what we can do to fix it. They don’t have to go check with someone else.”

All employees must be on the same team to make the business successful. John Waldoch says they meet weekly to go over the happenings at the dealership.

“Then the whole group is in the loop,” he said. “We’re on the same team. No ragging on other employees. A lot of that is my attitude. It rubs off on them.”

If a customer hears anything negative among the employees, Barb Waldoch says it makes them feel less confident in the dealership. The same goes with other dealerships.

“You don’t have to rag on another dealership,” said John Waldoch. “You don’t need to spread the negativity. You don’t ever add to that.”

A key to Waldoch Sports’ high customer ratings is its relationship with its OEMs. John Waldoch says Yamaha and John Deere are easy to work with in terms of solving problems.

“If the customer comes in with a problem, whether it is or isn’t a problem, we need to do something to make it right,” he said. “Yamaha and John Deere are our only lines because they’re on the same page as us.”

Consumer’s level

Being on the same page is critical in pleasing customers. John Waldoch says they instill in their mechanics to be on the same page as the customers.

“There were some carburator issues,” he said of a recent issue. “That guy just spent $12,000 two and half months ago, and he’s starting to complain it’s not running.

“We get down to the customer’s level and in their way of thinking.”

It helps to keep the customer in the know as well, says John Waldoch. After a vehicle is purchased, someone at the store goes over the vehicle information and service needs thoroughly.

“If a guy comes back for a 500-mile check and he’s mad at the service department because no one told him there was a charge for that,” said John Waldoch, “that’s a big thing. If you go through everything, he may not remember how much it was going to cost him, but at least he knows it’s not free.”

Barb Waldoch added, “(Customer service) is the basic things a business owner knows he should be doing. It’s being detailed and following through.”

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