A 30-minute oil change is easy, but performing a 30,000-mile major service in the same amount of time is another matter.
Except for Lexus.
Using the theories of kaizen, or continuous improvement, Lexus is shaving hours, minutes and seconds from tasks that make service customers twiddle their thumbs in lounges.
Since 1989, Lexus has grown from zero to 2.2 million units in operation -- with the real possibility of adding 300,000-plus in the United States every year. In 2005 Lexus sold an average of 1,442 units per dealership. That puts it second-highest in the industry, trailing only Toyota. So the 210 Lexus dealerships have a lot of service volume to deal with.
While Toyota may get away with some mass-market touches for its Corolla and Tacoma customers, luxury customers are a notoriously finicky bunch. The idea of "surprise and delight" is expected, not optional.
The new process, called Lexus Benchmark Service, evaluates all tasks and procedures that occur in a dealership's back shop and tries to eliminate wasted time and effort.
"We can't let volume get in the way of delivering the Lexus experience," says Nancy Fein, Lexus vice president of customer services.