JM Lexus – Women Leading the Luxury (Auto) Retailing Revolution

JM Lexus – Women Leading the Luxury (Auto) Retailing Revolution

The Largest Lexus dealer in the country becomes a Lexus Plus dealer – to remain the best to customers and best for employees

By Kevin Joostema, Partner, Car-ED.com / April 2018


Despite handling some of the largest luxury transactions any luxury customer may enter into, the luxury auto makers continue to sell and service vehicles like they have for generations.   While many other industries have seen tremendous innovations in luxury goods selling and  identifying ”experiences” for customers, particularly to attract the millennials to their brands, the luxury auto retailing giants remain a laggard.

As new luxury brands come to exist and new challengers rise up once again, it is only through changing the customer experience that the brands can differentiate and create something new for buyers.

Leadership by the JM Family Enterprises is across many fronts.   For one, they are leaders in recognizing that it all starts with the needs of customers and the workplace needs of employees – and how these two areas go hand-in-hand.  JM, as one of the largest private businesses in the US as well as one of Fortune’s Top 50 Best Places to Work, is obviously a leader on both fronts.  So customers should take note how JM is “running to the future” in luxury retailing. They have been the #1 Lexus dealer in the country in terms of volume for 25 years in a row.  They are now moving to define being “the best” differently.

JM Lexus and its associates, in Margate, FL, have launched the Lexus Plus program for luxury car selling and servicing in 2018.  Like Car-ED is changing the “which car is best for me” experience for consumers, JM Lexus is redefining the luxury buying and ownership experiences.  JM Lexus is the only Lexus dealer in the SE to launch Lexus Plus and one of only 13 nationwide.  However, as the head of marketing for JM Lexus, Rose Faraone, mentioned, “When JM does it, people really start to take notice.”  Customers should take notice for an additional reason – because it is women executives like Rose, who is in charge of leading the overall execution of this program through messaging and marketing of this bold, Lexus Plus program, that it is succeeding.

What is Lexus Plus?

An internal mantra for JM Lexus in taking over 10 months to plan, train, and launch the Lexus Plus program (from February to December 2017) was “One Price, One Person”.

I like this description – its so simple that anyone can understand.

As the official program describes, there are two guardrails to the program:

  • A single point of contact, and,
  • A negotiation-free price.

This program is applied to the sales and service processes – turning them into experiences rather than a cold process or transaction.

It may not seem like much with these simple words, but it is revolutionary for the customer.

jmlexus.com/dealership/lexus-plus.htm

For buying a vehicle – there are no more awkward hand-offs to different departments for approval.   No more sitting around a dealership while the sales person checks with managers on deals that can be ok’d.  No more moving afterwards to an F&I manager, and then service contracts to be sold/pushed at you.  It is all one person.  And there is transparent, upfront pricing which is clearly marked on all vehicles.   This pricing is adjusted each month.  It is all through one person, one price.

For servicing your vehicle it is just as dramatic.  No more arriving, talking to a service writer for check-in, then having other services pushed at you or checking if certain service coupons can be used or not, then going to a separate loaner car person and waiting.  And continuing the wait cycle upon returning, waiting in a cashier line to pay, getting a service technician to explain the bill, maybe seeing the service writer again as well.   It is all one person, one price.

One of the main goals of the program is to drop the average time for purchasing a vehicle from 3.5 hours to 2 hours.   And for servicing the goals are for reduced time as well and increases in the number of scheduled appointments (for smoother use of time and customers time).  JM has even implemented a pay ahead online for service so there is literally no waiting upon pickup.

How has JM Lexus customized the Lexus Plus experience for their market?

JM Lexus has added additional measures based on its expertise in being #1 for 25 years in a row.    They include:

  • No dealer fees
  • No set fees on top of pricing
  • A guaranteed loaner vehicle when servicing
  • E-Pay options – to expedite the service pickup
  • A 72 hour money back guarantee on all vehicles purchased

All 390 associated of JM Lexus – yes, that’s how big this Lexus dealer is – were trained in the program and changes.  That is some serious use of time and commitment by all involved.   All to make the customer have an additional level of comfort and security while buying a car, and increase the chance for a deeper personal relationship to develop between customer and associate.

For sales managers, the whole month of October 2017 was taken for training.  They are now versed in all functions.  They received targeted social media training as well (a skill that is beneficial for any job) as that is one of the new ways that customers can “rate” them and their experiences.  iPad Pros are used by all sales managers, thus requiring technology training as well.

Marketing Impact

For Ms. Faraone and her marketing team,  it is a complete change in messaging.  Before, it was about price and being #1.  Now it is about “what shopping is like” and the experience at JM Lexus and how Lexus Plus is different – more secure, more comforting, easier, less time, etc.

Rose went out and purposely found a firm with no automotive clients/experience to focus on the luxury lifestyle aspect of the business and customers.   You can see the difference immediately in the look and feel of the messaging that her group sends out to customers and the benefits to the customers.

The future goals of Ms. Faraone as the head of marketing include more technology to help consumers view inventory and to educate further about the new way of experiencing sales and service due to the Lexus Plus strategy.

See Ms. Faraone’s direct comments on this and other topics here:

Youtube Car-ED – Rose Faraone, Director of Marketing, JM Lexus:

Consumer Impact

As the lifestyle gains in prominence in messaging, so has the use of social media to promote the lifestyle and recognize the lifestyle of their customers and the community at large.   This has led to a shift toward Facebook and Twitter by JM for messaging versus traditional non-digital ways to reach out.  Instagram is also increasing in prominence and all three have required social media training for all sales managers and other impacts (see below).

This is most likely having the most impact on the Millennial cohort of consumers – as they are now as large or larger than their Baby Boomer parents generation.   While they have come to the car ownership game a bit later than others it is they who will make or break the luxury brands in the future.   And this is exactly why new methods are needed to keep them attracted – specifically attracted to luxury {vehicle) “experiences.”

Consumers can still pick a certain sales manager if wanted – either from past experience at the retailer or due to referrals.  But again, the referrals are coming from the social media presence and “ratings” of the managers – thus the importance of that training for the associates.

Lastly, the consumer experience benefits from the removal of the rushed environment at the end of the month – as pricing is reset each month.  In actuality it is at all dealerships – but here at JM Lexus  it is transparent for the consumer at all times, and the same throughout the month.  The deals are not better at the end of the month then they are at the beginning of the month.   So that pressure selling for the end of the month is gone.  Thank goodness!

Some of the biggest transactional impacts are with the service side experience.

There are not coupons anymore – or haggling about pricing for each piece of work to be done.

The focus is on making new appointments.  Under the program new appointments are up 20% – making the efficiency of the service bays greater (instead of people just showing up without an appointment).

There is no cashier, no service check-in writer, no loaner car person – just one simple, consultant to handle all your needs.  Again, saving time for the associate and the consumer.

And for surveying, consumers have four additional questions added to their CSI (consumer satisfaction index) and  SSI (service satisfaction index)  questions for information related to the Lexus Plus methods.

Associate Impact

As mentioned the associates have been the beneficiaries of strong social media training and over 10 months of training and preparations to participate in.  Over 390 associates have been involved for JM Lexus.

Associates must more closely monitor and manage their social media presence and ratings by consumers.

Associates have now been cross-trained in multiple functions as they are the one point of contact.   The sales associates along had a whole month of training in October 2017.   The amount of money that JM Lexus invested in this training could not be shared, but you can imagine it is a large amount over such a large group of associates and so much time.   In the end, this  makes them more knowledgeable overall for the interaction with the consumer as well as making them more valuable to any employer – including JM – in the future.

Most importantly is the fact that the work-life balance for associates is positively affected.   There is not the “end of month” focus and deal making as before.   It is one price with one consultant – same at the beginning of the month as at the end.    Associates are focused on what the customers want….as the price is already agreed and done.   It is a non-issue.

This also contributes the efficiency of the associates – they can in total spend less time with customers but have them be more satisfied in the end and efficient with their most precious luxury – time.   And for the service technicians – the better scheduling lets them also have a better work-life balance as their time can be better planned.

Of course, this is all on top of the already amazing experience that associates at JM Lexus experience with an on-site nurse, doctor, and retirement programs available to associates.

Rose Faraone Background

Ms. Rose Faraone first came to JM Lexus as the head of the human resources function 17 years ago.   At the time there were 225 associates (now 390 among the 4,200 for all of JM Family Enterprises).

Interestingly, Ms. Faraone  grew into the head of marketing role from the HR function as she launched the Facebook and Twitter accounts for the company.   It was 8-9 years ago and she attended social media classes on her own and with the company interest in mind to begin making a presence online.  With just two part-time interns she spear-headed these communication channels.   This quickly led to additional community events involvement.   This all led to the creation of the Marketing department in 2012.

The Marketing Department has a focus on two areas:

  • Community
  • Digital (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)

It is tucked away next the the creative signage and custom-car creators in a building on the dealer campus in a cool, creative, Monopoly-themed space.  Again, this effort to be creative by Ms. Faraone extends to her team of associates, not just for the consumers.

One of the teams best moments is the interesting fact that they have the most liked image on Facebook ever produced for Lexus.  It is from 2012.  See it here:

As a director with JM Lexus, Ms. Faraone is one of the 38% of the 4,200 associates that are women and the 30% of directors or above that are women.   It is directly through Ms Faraone’s vision for communication and messaging – and constant drive for learning – that the Lexus Plus program and JM Family outreach to the community is and will be a success unlike any other.  You can hear her direct comments here with some excerpts from our discussion:

Youtube Car-ED:  Rose Faraone, Director of Marketing, JM Lexus

JM Lexus / JM Family Enterprises

“For 25 years, JM Lexus has been the world’s largest-volume Lexus dealership, but being number one is no longer enough,” says Jim Dunn, VP and GM of JM Lexus. “We want to be the best dealership for our customers by continuing to be an industry leader and innovator, raising the bar by delivering an easier, faster and more streamlined [luxury] car buying experience.”

To learn more about the Lexus Plus program, visit www.lexus.com/lexusplus or speak with a JM Lexus sales manager or service consultant.

JM Lexus, located in Margate, Fla., maintains state-of-the-art Service and Parts departments, as well as one of only a few Lexus Certified Collision Centers in the country. JM Lexus is the only Lexus Plus dealership in the southeastern United States offering guests a dedicated consultant and negotiation-free pricing in both sales and service. It is also a leader in environmental sustainability, employing a number of eco-friendly business practices such as solar power, efficient lighting and modern paint technologies to offset its carbon footprint. The JM Lexus Certified Pre-Owned Department offers a wide range of makes and models with the dealership’s standards of excellence.

JM Lexus is a subsidiary of JM Family Enterprises, Inc., a diversified automotive corporation headquartered in Deerfield Beach, Fla. JM Family is ranked No. 20 on Forbes’ list of America’s Largest Private Companies. The company is also ranked No. 55 by FORTUNE® as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For®, its 19th consecutive year on the list.

Learn more and interact with JM Lexus at:

Facebook.com/jmlexusfl

Twitter.com/JMLexusFL

Instagram.com/jmlexusfl