The store bears the founder’s name, but it also has some less well known claims to fame, deep inside its world of high volume automotive service.
With 20,000 active customers, meaning they’ve used Rudy Luther’s Toyota for service in the past year, RL is number one in “customer pay” repair orders in the Chicago region, explains Service Director John Kendall. These are non-warranty jobs where customers pay out of pocket for service.
Predictions come true
Some years ago, Kendall predicted that express type services, such as brakes, tires and oil changes, would play a larger role than traditional repairs. He suggested that successful shops would build customer relationships through express service, so guests would continue to use them after their cars exceeded 100,000 miles. Some seven years after its new larger store was built, RL can claim that half of its 5,000 repair orders per month involve cars with 90,000 miles or more.
Setting employee and management skills and Luther excellence aside for a moment, one might note that RL Toyota has some inherent advantages. Toyota is the largest carmaker in the world, and was on pace to produce a mammoth 10.1 million vehicles in 2013, the most ever by one manufacturer. The dealership sits on the primary freeway, I-394, on the well-to-do west side of Minneapolis. Its inventory of 700 cars covers four lots, with about 500 vehicle sales per month. And, a high percentage of
Toyota owners are very loyal to Toyota parts, Kendall explains.
Service is a people intensive process where everyone needs to know their role, said Kendall. RL is often the place where new ideas are tried, and, if there are problems with a new concept, staff members will know quite quickly.
A total store effort
“I don’t think it’s stress if it’s what you like to do,” said Kendall. “From the GM to the office people, we all line up outside and wash cars for customers. It’s a total store, the salespeople help.”
On a national scale, RL is swimming with some big fish in higher density population centers, where service is offered 24 hours a day. “If you own a Toyota and want to bring it down, they tell you 2 a.m. and you don’t have a choice,” said Kendall. In this group, the service department ranks 25th in the nation for volume.