Dorothy Talan-Quaid: There’s a new manager in town
Okay, maybe he’s not brand-spanking new to Auburn or Magnussen Dodge, but Brian Kaestner is in the driver’s seat at that dealership, and with him comes a fresh vision and an improved customer service policy.
Kaestner, who was the General Sales Manager at Magnussen Dodge for the past six years, was promoted to General Manager in May. His new position carries a whole new set of responsibilities, according to Kaestner. “As a sales manager before, I was in charge of the sales department and its aspects of engine writing business and revenue for the store,” Kaestner said. “Now I’m also responsible for the parts department, service department, so I have a larger scheme of the dealership as far as the responsibilities.”
One of the biggest challenges Kaestner is facing is establishing good morale among employees and with the public. “I think your biggest struggle is the people you surround yourself with in the dealership,” Kaestner says. “No one person is going to make or break a dealership, but it’s a collective effort, a team effort in this dealership.”
Kaestner said many other dealerships segregate their different departments, with little interaction between those departments and the business as a whole. “My philosophy is that it’s a team, that we’re all together. It’s not the sales department, it’s not the service department, it’s not parts, it’s Magnussen Dodge,” he said. “Everybody should be held accountable for their jobs and their duties and they should have a type of work ethic that generates throughout the rest of the dealership, that shows a positive attitude.”
That philosophy includes making sure every employee knows his or her value to the team. “One person may not make or break a dealership,” he repeated, “but that one person matters and that one person reflects Magnussen Dodge, so everything that we do within this dealership reflects the rest of the dealership, and I think that’s important.”
Kaestner says his management style differs from the previous manager in that he (Kaestner) is more detail-oriented than his predecessor. “I like to be more hands-on in everything,” he said, noting that one of the previous co-owners was a more sales-focused motivator than Kaestner. “I think you can be a motivator, but also be one that pays attention to detail also. It’s a fine line.”
Each of the dealership’s 80 employees know that their performance is “under a careful watch” and “they want to be at a place where it’s reputable”, according to Kaestner. “We all want to work at a place where it’s a fun atmosphere, where it has a good, positive image and we can provide a good means of a lifestyle for our families, and that’s what I want to produce here.”
Magnussen Dodge is a “five-star” dealership, meeting the high customer service and satisfaction standards set by Chrysler, Kaestner said. He wants customers to know that they are more than just a number on the board or a name on a piece of paper. “Everybody’s on a first-name basis. We want to make sure that when they (customers) do come in here, that they feel welcome.”
His management style means that pleasing a customer in the service department is just as important as making customers happy in the sales department. “It’s return business and it’s word of mouth, and in a small community, that’s very important, because you do look to your community for support,” Kaestner said. “We depend on repeat business and referral business, being in a smaller community.”
Kaestner encourages past and present customers to let him know about their good and bad experiences at Magnussen’s, so he can praise his employees for their good work and try to make amends for any negatives. “We’re under new management now, still a lot of the same people, but we’re under new management and that’s recognizing that and giving us an opportunity,” he said.
He also wants those customers to feel confident about referring friends and family to the dealership, including the service department. “One of Chrysler’s things is they have an index for ‘Fixed First Visit’ and currently we’re at a hundred percent,” Kaestner said. “That, again, is relaying through each person in this dealership that you’re going to be held accountable for your actions and your duties because it’s a direct reflection of the whole dealership.”
Customer satisfaction is a legacy left to the dealership by Mr. Magnussen some nine years ago, says Kaestner. “That’s our slogan…’Where you’re always welcome’; down at our Toyota store it’s ‘Where you always come back’. That’s important, that we keep that legacy with the dealership,” he added.
Magnussen Dodge is located at 1901 Grass Valley Highway, in Auburn, California. The dealership can be reached at 530-885-2900.
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