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An ‘Elite’ standard

Jason Cannon November 19, 2013

Valley Freightliner opened its third location (Olyimpa, Wash.) in April 2013 and after only six months achieved Elite Support certification at its newest location.

All three of Valley Freightliner’s Western Washington locations are Elite Support certified, with their Pacific and Mt. Vernon locations entering the third year of certification.

Olympia’s certification was somewhat unique in that the location was being remodeled after previously serving as a Richie Brothers auction facility. The building was developed around the fundamental requirements of the Elite Support program.

“We saw the value that Elite Support was bringing to our two other locations, and wanted to ensure we were set up for success in Olympia as well,” Jerrad Avery, Olympia’s Branch Manager, says of the building’s design.

But it takes a lot more than just a blueprint. Elite Support certification isn’t easy. If it were, it wouldn’t be called Elite. And it’s about to get even harder.

RELATED: DTNA announces improvements to Elite Support program

But Avery says the dividends are well-worth the investment, as it aided his company hone its focus to simply become a better kind of business.

“We have been challenged to take a critical look at nearly all of our processes, procedures and policies in order to identify opportunities for improvement,” he says. “The rewards of some of the improvements we have made have had a pretty profound impact on the dealership.”

Not only is Valley improving itself and eliminating waste from the dealership, but they are also making the experience for the customer more positive.

“For example, we have better organized and laid our service departments which increases productivity/efficiency within the shop, which hopefully means less waiting for the customer,” Avery says. “We have also improved our customer facing processes (phone skills, greetings, etc) which we hope also has a positive impact on our customers.”

The biggest testament, Avery adds, are the improved efficiencies, and the potential to serve more customers.

RELATED: Valley Freightliner opening new location

Olympia’s management team attended Daimler’s mandatory boot camp session in June and were certified nearly 90 days later in October.  DTNA professes that Elite Support is a program that is “customer focused” and that becomes very evident at Valley’s Olympia location.

“In Olympia, the staff has been onboard with the process from day one,” says Avery, who oversees that location. “We continually try to foster a culture of continuous improvement and daily involve the employees for suggestions on how to improve our business.  The employees are excited and take great pride in the appearance, professionalism, and progress that our team has made. It is quickly becoming a way of life and the standard that we have just come to live by.”

Boasting a 2,000 square feet customer lounge with free wi-fi, comfortable seating, business work stations, free showers, free laundry facilities, large screen TV, a variety of vending options and access to a kitchenette, Avery says Valley Freightliner wants to ensure that its customers can maximize productivity during down time.

While the amenities are one aspect of the program, Avery will also tell you that’s certainly not the most important aspect of being Elite Support certified.

“While the facility creature comforts are nice, our most prideful moments come when we are able to give our customers a more positive experience as the result of an improvement in a process, procedure, or policy that may have not been running optimally previously where Elite Support has challenged us look at with a critical eye,” he says.

The quest for this kind of greatness and the drive to maintain it are what keeps certified Daimler dealers in rarified – and Elite – air.

Jason Cannon is Online Managing Editor for Truck Parts & Service.

You can follow me on twitter at @By_Jason_Cannon

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