Not that they're selling clunkers, but Lexus dealers are largely responsible for the success of Toyota's luxury brand, says Dennis Clements, vice president and general manager of the Lexus division in the U.S.
“Our dealers have done a phenomenal job of providing customer service and satisfaction,” he says. “They're responsible for bringing people back. They've won the J.D. Power and Associates dealer satisfaction survey 10 times in 11 years.”
Enhancing that feat is that the dealers did it while feeling the growing pains of doubled sales since Lexus debuted in 1990.
There are 193 Lexus dealerships in the U.S. Another 20 are in the works. That's because current dealership capacity to handle the expanding business has become an issue, says Mr. Clements.
“The goal is not so much to add a lot of dealerships, but to make sure the ones we have provide customers with sales and service satisfaction,” he says at a showing of the completely redesigned ES 300.
That entry-luxury model arrives at showrooms in October. The 2002 ES 300 carries a sticker in the low $30,000s. It's sleeker and sexier than its predecessor. The more alluring package aims to attract a broader range of buyers, especially younger ones.
“The issue then becomes whether they'll come back, and we think they will after our dealers get a hold of them,” says Mr. Clements.
Lexus conservatively expects to sell 217,000 units this year, but, “we'll do better than that,” he says. Lexus reigns as the nation's best-selling luxury brand. So far, 2001 sales are 17% ahead of last year.
Says Mr. Clements, “I'd be disingenuous to say I didn't enjoy being number one last year. But our goal is not to be number one in sales,” he says. “It's to be number one in sales satisfaction.”