River City Ford, Manitoba: Concierge Service

Esteban Jerez (Photo: River City Ford)

This Manitoba dealership caters to the needs, and growing demands, of its fleet customers.

The fleet team at River City Ford in Winnipeg, Manitoba takes the idea of service to a level that has many of their customers singing their praises. “We have a different approach here,” explains Esteban Jerez, Sales Manager, Fleet and Commercial Vehicles at River City Ford. “We believe we can make the biggest difference when we take the most off the already full plates of our customers.”

Simply put, Jerez and his fleet team realize that their customers don’t have time to visit dealerships. “They have businesses to run and they prefer to spend their time making money, rather than spending money,” he adds. “We’re on the side of spending the money, so we try to be their concierge and take care of their needs.

“By that we mean not only spec-ing a vehicle, or making sure that we understand their business so that they don’t have to second guess things, or making sure that they’re getting the right vehicle for their needs, but also taking the vehicle, once it arrives from the factory to different upfitters, to make sure the vehicle is running with all the equipment and decals it requires.”

In some cases, Jerez will even recommend an insurance provider. “We make sure the vehicle is plated, registered and licensed so that when we deliver the vehicle, we put the keys in their hands and the driver can get in and get to work,” he adds.

Priority service

On the service side of the equation, River City Ford puts fleet customers first, realizing that when a vehicle is in for maintenance or repairs, it’s not out making money.

The dealership has also implemented something it calls the “R-Plan.” In short, River City Ford’s R-Plan offers businesses and their employees discounts and incentives on a variety of sales and service offerings.

The R-Plan is set up well in advance. “We review their needs with a questionnaire so that when a vehicle comes in for service we already know what needs to be done, who will be charged for the work, who the point of contact is, how we will deliver the vehicle, etc.,” Jerez explains.

Communication is key

As any service customer will attest, open communication with the dealership is vital. Knowing what needs to be fixed, how long it will take, when the vehicle will be ready for pick-up, etc. is paramount. That’s why River City Ford has key people in place to make sure fleet customers have all the answers, and can plan accordingly.

“We have Holly Dunphy who coordinates with the service customers to make sure everyone knows which vehicles are coming in, when they’re coming in, and when they will be leaving the dealership,” Jerez says. “We also know who we have to communicate with to let them know what’s going on with their vehicles. We cannot drop the ball. Communication is very important.”

Communication is especially critical when customers expect deliveries of a large number of vehicles all at once. “If we have a company that has an order for 50 vehicles, we need to let the service department know when those vehicles will be coming in so that they are ready for the pre-delivery inspection,” Jerez adds. “So we need to communicate, plan accordingly and set expectations with customers so nobody gets bad news at the last minute.”

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