Just about every policy, process and procedure that Zach Brandt has initiated since taking over two years ago as fixed operations director at his Ford and Lincoln store is designed to help attain the one goal he is relentlessly driving toward: "I want to be the Ford store that our guests come to because they want to, not because they have to."
Three pillars of that strategy involve communication -- both internally among employees and externally to customers -- employee training and customer convenience.
For example, since late 2013, the store has tripled its fleet of loaner cars from nine to 27. And customers who call for service speak directly to a service adviser who can immediately schedule an appointment. Customers who drop off their cars for service by 8 a.m. will be called by 10:30 a.m., letting them know when the vehicle will be repaired and ready for pickup.
Since 2013, total revenues in the store's fixed-ops business -- including a separate body shop -- have increased nearly 80 percent, says Brandt.
Brandt manages 58 employees working at the store and at the body shop at another location. Employee turnover is low -- just one person has left in the last 12 months -- and Capitol is one of the few new-car dealers in the nation that does not need to hire any technicians.
Most of the store's technicians hold numerous certifications and take various repair jobs, which, Brandt says, is the main reason for the store's improved throughput.
"Every tech we have in the shop can now clear a ticket. There are no specialties. We have techs who are certified to fix air conditioning, but if someone comes in needing an alignment, he will do that. Of the 10 technicians in the shop, we have five who are senior master technicians. My goal is to have every guy in the shop a senior master technician within the next two years."
Brandt, whose workday starts at 5 a.m., is putting in around 70 hours a week as sales volume increases. So far this year, the store's monthly volume is averaging 103 new and 62 used vehicles, up from 94 new and 52 used vehicles each month last year.
At 30, Brandt, a third-generation dealership employee, already has his future course set. He wants his own store someday.
"I've been working here since I was 12 years old. I don't know anything else," he said. "I don't want to know anything else. I just love the business."