Women Enjoy New Sales Approaches With “Lexus Difference” And “Lexus Plus” Programs
Treating customers like guests in their home has long been a goal for Lexus, and for more than 25 years, the Japanese luxury manufacturer has set a high bar for customer service.
AskPatty Chief Editor Brandy Schaffels was asked to participate in a panel discussion at the 2016 New York Auto Show to discuss the company’s new “Lexus Experience” sales program -- which targets women, millennials, and multicultural buyers -- educating dealers and providing them the tools to build deeper, longer-lasting relationships between their guests and sales and service associates.
Brandy participated on the panel alongside Peggy Turner, Lexus Vice President of Customer Service; Lauren Fix, The Car Coach™ and industry talking head; and Audra Fordin, certified auto mechanic and owner of the Great Bear Auto Repair Shop in New York. The discussion was moderated by Melanie Batenchuk, founder and editor of Be Car Chic. Highlights of the discussion can be found here at OpenBay.com.
The spending power of young, female, and minority buyers is accelerating: Millennials account for $200 billion in purchasing power, women influence more than 80 percent of car-buying decisions, and multicultural groups now contribute a total of $14 billion to the auto industry. Recognizing that improving the customer experience will only elevate their affinity for the brand, Lexus is focusing on personalizing the guest experience for these three demographics, showing customers the respect they deserve, and exhibiting greater sensitivity to their unique needs and desires.
Among the components devoted to serving these groups is an updated training curriculum -- featuring in-person and online training workshops and webinars along with supplemental virtual training and a speaker’s series featuring renowned experts -- to help sales associates better meet and exceed the needs and expectations of these customer segments. Participating dealerships will also have access to a digital resource library that provides tools, informational materials and ideas to help Lexus dealers adjust their operations across all channels of communication and physical guest touch points to be consistent with how target segments operate in their daily lives.
And, in an effort to improve the experience for their female employees, Lexus is also offering a new designer line of clothing for its associates. Rather than dress in a cookie-cutter “button-down-and-khakis” uniform, Lexus is teaming with a high-end, classic fashion retailer to provide stylish, sophisticated separates for female sales associates to choose from as part of their work wardrobe. Lexus debuted the upcoming fall collection to a small group of women journalists, showing such pieces as classic sweater sets, a navy-blue wool blazer with white-satin-trimmed collar, and a trendy black peplum top.
Many women have often said they felt like they’re being ignored or treated disrespectfully at car dealers. “Everyone’s always afraid to come to a dealership, thinking that they’ll get taken advantage of,” says Caren Myers, general manager at Fresno Lexus, one of the first dealerships across the country to adopt the new program. “There are very subtle differences that you can do to let women know you care about them and their experience in the service drive.”
With Lexus Difference, among other techniques, associates are now being trained to speak to women first rather than directing their pitch to men. “Women hold 80% of the influence in a purchasing decision,” says Peggy Turner, Lexus’s vice president of customer service. “Whether she’s making the decision or not, she’s definitely going to influence the decision. The man doesn’t really care whom you’re addressing, but women feel left out.”
Since the “Lexus Experience,” panel discussion at the New York Auto Show, Lexus has also introduced a new sales program that provides negotiation-free upfront pricing, and dedicated personal consultants to accompany buyers throughout the entire sales process. Called “Lexus Plus,” the beta program began launching in Lexus dealerships in May; as the next chapter of the company’s commitment to improving the luxury dealership experience, the program isn’t about offering the single cheapest price on the market, but is focused instead on offering a fair price while also respecting the customer’s time to create an easy, positive buying experience. Learn more about this new buying program at lexus.com/lexusplus
Lexus is hoping these new approaches will gradually become standard procedure for their dealerships: While neither of these programs are mandatory, the manufacturer expects as many as 90 percent of their outlets will adopt the “Lexus Experience” initiative. “I don’t want it to be a program,” says Turner. “This is going to be a culture.” The company will cover training and marketing costs, but dealers will pay for new uniforms and specialized equipment; alongside displaying current magazines and fresh fruit, some locations may even begin offering yoga classes and spa treatments.
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