Written by: Russell Purcell (Driving.ca - October 5, 2015)
Manager fell into auto industry and hasn’t been disappointed.
VANCOUVER — Anke Minty grew up in Tsawwassen, but the British Columbia native now lives in Surrey with her husband and two children, aged 18 and 20.
As the fixed operations manager at OpenRoad Lexus in Richmond, Minty is responsible for managing the parts and service departments as well as detailing.
The job requires Minty be a master of scheduling and time management as she must work hard to ensure three different departments are functioning as efficiently as possible and to the satisfaction of customers.
“I have been with the company for 33 years,” said the OpenRoad veteran with a big smile. “In fact, I started when I was just three years of age!”
All kidding aside, Minty admits she kind of fell into the job right after high school. “I was graduating in June 1982 and I had just enrolled in college. I was riding the bus to Richmond in hopes of finding a job close to school and it just so happened that I had a girlfriend on the bus who was working at Richmond Toyota.
“Luckily for me she had just been offered a full-time job in the business office. So this meant that her old job as a part-time receptionist was now available and she suggested that I come in and interview for it.”
Minty followed up on the tip from her friend and managed to land the job. She worked her way up the ladder occupied with various positions at the busy dealership until 1998, when she made the move to Richmond Lexus upon returning from maternity leave.
“There have been so many changes at Lexus since my arrival. When I first came here there were four technicians. Now there are 15! We might have had 10 people there when I arrived and now there are perhaps as many as 45. The growth and interest in the Lexus brand has been phenomenal.”
Minty didn’t really have an interest in cars prior to getting involved in the industry, but over time she has developed a real appreciation for the increasingly complicated, but beautiful machines.
“I never thought that I would be working in the car industry as my goal was to go into business or industrial relations. But through my work I have come to appreciate what goes into building and designing the various components in the car, especially things like the intricate displays and the various trim pieces.”
The organizational dynamo admits Lexus is a great brand to work with, but things move at a very rapid pace and it is vital that everyone at the dealership keep up with the changes.
“The technology in these cars seems to change daily,” said Minty. “So our staff are always receiving additional training so that they will have the knowledge base required to work on these automobiles. Luckily, the basic root of doing business is still fundamentally the same. Customer satisfaction is job one, but their expectations are much higher than ever before.”
As a result, she says there are a lot of processes to change to cover every angle and ensure that the job gets done properly and that the customer is happy with the service they receive. Most of this requires, Minty continues, something as simple as getting back to the basics like greeting the customer, working hard and helping each other.
“The reality is that we work with cars, but our product is customer satisfaction. You want the customers to be comfortable here and wanting to come back. Customer retention is the most important component of a healthy auto dealership.”
In the case of the ever-expanding OpenRoad Group, employees know the needs and wants of their clientele may change over time, so the hope is these customers will feel comfortable enough with the company that they will simply migrate to one of OpenRoad’s other dealerships and find what they are looking for.
“I tend to focus on nurturing and maintaining the satisfaction of the customers at our Lexus store,” she said. “But if a guest tells me that they are wanting to look at a different brand, I am always happy to suggest that they go visit one of our other dealerships.”
“It is important to stand behind your promises. At OpenRoad, we strive to do just that. This is why we have some customers who are third-generation OpenRoad customers!”
The OpenRoad Auto Group offers its employees an abundance of training and advancement opportunities and management seems to treat every member of the staff as if they were members of an extended family.
“The relationship between the employees and management is very nurturing, so there are quite a few employees like myself who have been with OpenRoad for a long time. I can’t imagine working anywhere else. People move on to other stores, but there is always a real effort made for everyone to keep in touch and I really like that.”
There have been lots of operational changes over the years as the company expanded, especially with regards to the expansion of facilities.
“It was really neat that my staff got to help consult on what was needed for our department when the new building was in the planning stages. Every associate in the building had valuable input that was considered.
“Everything is constantly changing around me, which is a challenge, but that is what makes me want to come to work each day as I enjoy finding solutions to problems and making things fall into place. We are never sitting still and are always ready to change the processes as needed to get the job done to the best of our ability.”
Minty is a strong believer in cross training, so all of the members of her immediate staff have been trained on how to do the basic roles of others in their department.
“That is how I was brought up through the ranks and I like to carry that on moving forward so that our staff is best prepared for the future.”
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