OC MazdaYour dad may have drilled it into your head…

“Son, don’t ever take your car to be serviced at a dealership.  They’ll rip you off every time.”

Or you devour all the sites and posts complaining about dealer service.

You know,  YOU JUST KNOW,  if you take your car to the dealer, they are taking you to the cleaners.

But sometimes you get lucky.

Sometimes you find the exception to the rule.

Like OC Mazda.

There’s a reason why owner John Patterson was awarded the Top Leader for Small Business by the OC Register.

John Patterson OCBizBlog

OC Mazda Owner John Patterson courtesy of The Orange County Register

It’s  the way Lynda Nelson engages and interacts through her emails, on the phone and in person.

How Nicolas in the service department works honestly and diligently on repairs and quick fixes that are within your budget.

It’s why they get great reviews on Yelp.

We have written about OC Mazda before.

This time we’re breaking down what they do to create the best marketing money can buy – word of mouth.

1.  It’s the culture, stupid.

You see it as soon as you walk in the door, but more importantly you feel it.  This isn’t an uncomfortable place to be.  People talk to you like you’re another person.  Not a mark.  Not a “prospect”.  Just someone who is looking for some help.  And help is what you get. It’s very very simple.  And very very hard to get right.

2.  Understand what the customer wants.

Everybody talks a big game about this one but actually executing it is something else.  And to experience it firsthand sort of takes your breath away.  Wait, you care that I have a budget for repairs?  You said you can fix that thing for half what my mechanic quoted me?  Now you’re actually doing it?  It’s done? That’s the bill?  Being understood, actually being listened to, is all some customers want. Do that and you have them for life.

3.  Hire great people.

Remember when the Angels won the World Series?  Remember that batting lineup?  No holes.  Top to bottom it was first-class.  Everybody had a role.  Everyone was on the same page.  Same thing here.  It’s not like the guy who sold you the car was cool and the finance person was a jerk.  Or the service guy is nice but the shuttle guy is scary.  They all get it.

4.  Do what you say you will do.

This is another one that is self-evident but hard to execute.  Talk is cheap.  It’s like the Seinfeld episode: anybody can TAKE a reservation, it’s the HOLDING that matters.  They tell you in the service department your estimate is going to be x.  Does it come back y?  z?  Nope, it’s freakin’ x.

5.  Exceed expectations.

Taking your car in to get serviced?  Yeah, it’ll be washed and cleaned inside and out too.  Need to get back to the office…quickly?   The shuttle will take you NOW.  Need to be picked up?  He will be there at 1 o’clock.  And guess what.  He’s there.  Not at 1 o’clock.  At 12:55.

6.  Follow up, stay in touch, the right way.

Now it’s easier to do than ever.  There are no excuses. But do most small businesses do it?  Nope.  And those that do, generally do it poorly.  They act like an ex-boyfriend who keep interrupting your life.   Come on buddy, it’s over.  It was over when you started belching at every meal.  So why are you sending me junk mail now?   OC Mazda does the right thing the first time, then second time and by the third time I have granted them my permission to stay in touch and NOT just interrupt me.

7.  Just remember The Golden Rule.

So I got my hands on the OC Mazda training manual.  It’s huge.  Thick.  Heavy.  Like 300 pages or something.  Funny thing is, every page has one line on it and they all say the same thing:  “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”