Lexus seeks to improve car buying experince

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20 Under 40: JenniferDessoye

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Dr. Jennifer Dessoye is assistant professor of occupational therapy at Misericordia University and owner of Bright Beginnings Early Learning Academy (BBELA). Discontent with the early education curriculum and understanding of human development and neurolo (read more)

20 Under 40: Amy Hlavaty Belcher

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Amy Hlavaty Belcher, 39, owner and artistic director of Abrabesque Academy of Dancing, believes that for those who have been given much, much is expected. “I just try hard to do my best,” she said. I have been blessed with many opportunities and many gift (read more)

20 Under 40: Christopher Hetro

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Chris Hetro, 33, works hard and plays hard. “A strong work ethic is important, but finding balance outside of work is important because life is too short and you need to enjoy it,” he explained. As an electrical engineer and project manager at Borton-Laws (read more)

20 Under 40: C. David Pedri

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For attorney C. David Pedri, 37, it’s all about a combination of qualities that contribute to success. “My philosophy is simple: be open and honest, treat people the way you would want to be treated, with respect, and work hard to attain your dreams. The (read more)

20 Under 40: Ed Frable

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Ed Frable, 28, believes “if I work hard and stick to my word, good things will happen. My crew will not be deterred. We will re-evaluate our game plan and not give up until the job is complete,” explained Frable, the owner/operator of Ed Frable Constructi (read more)

20 Under 40: William H. Bender II

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William H. Bender II, CFP, CIMA, CRPC, loves what he does. “I’m lucky. I come to work every day excited to help the people and institutions we work with,” explained Bender, 34, first vice president at Bender Wealth Management Group, Merrill Lynch. The fam (read more)

20 Under 40: Angelo Venditti

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Angelo Venditti, 38, heard a call to the helping professions early on. Geisinger Northeast’s chief nursing officer answer was to volunteer for his local fire company. After high school, he became a paramedic, then enrolled in nursing school. Three years a (read more)

20 Under 40: Donald Mammano

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At 20, Donald Mammano began his own company, while attending the University of Scranton. Mammano, now 33, and president of DFM Properties, recalls, as a youngster, holding a flashlight while his father fixed the kitchen sink. “From that point on I was fas (read more)

20 Under 40: William J. Fennie III

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William J. Fennie III, 27, is always knocking on the proverbial door, because he knows one day, one will open. As an investment specialist with Integrated Capital Management (iCM) he cannot take “no” for an answer. “I make cold calls every day to invite f (read more)

20 Under 40: Marcus Magyar

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As an advisor at CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, Marcus N. Magyar, CFP, 30, provides comprehensive wealth management and investment portfolio services to business owners, executives, families and high-net worth individuals. His multi-disciplinary team of pro (read more)

20 Under 40: Heather Davis

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Heather M. Davis, 33, director of marketing and communication, is responsible for creating, overseeing and implementing a strategic marketing and comprehensive communications plan for The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC). She is also responsible for pr (read more)

20 Under 40: Alexandria Duffney

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Alexandria Duffney, 30, is competitive by nature and loves a good challenge. These qualities have led her to her position as associate director of graduate admission at Wilkes University. Here she works with prospective students interested in enrolling in (read more)

20 Under 40: John Culkin

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John Culkin’s tenets inform: “Less haste equal more speed; the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg, it is all about what you are made of, not the circumstances surrounding you; and don’t ask someone to walk a mile in your shoes, bef (read more)

20 Under 40: Conor O'Brien

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“What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it,” mused Conor O’Brien.” As co-founder and executive director of the Scranton Fringe Festival, O’Brien, 25, is responsible for leading the development of the overal (read more)

20 Under 40: Jessica Siegfried

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Jessica Siegfried, 38, is senior designer with BlackOut Design Inc., where she is responsible for all creative design at the full-service agency, from traditional branding and print to collateral and front end web design. “I’ve always had an interest in t (read more)

20 Under 40: David Johns

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David Johns’ career path has been shaped by his diverse experiences. As director of structural engineering at Greenman-Pedersen Inc., Moosic, Johns, 39, ensures that his engineering and consultant teams provide clients with their best effort. “We complete (read more)

20 Under 40: Robyn Jones

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Robyn Jones, 38, president of ReferLocal LLC, has learned just as many lessons from her business successes as she’s had from her failures — and she believes it’s important to share that knowledge with her employees. After graduating from American Universi (read more)

20 Under 40: Nisha Arora

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Nisha Arora, 36, tries to be the best version of herself every day. As general counsel for ERA One Source Realty Inc., she realized she cannot control other’s behavior so “I try to focus on myself and how I can be better,” she explained. Arora’s responsib (read more)

20 Under 40: Justin Sandy

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Starting at a young age in Hazleton, Justin C. Sandy, 33, found a passion for running. He became a member then a coach for Misericordia University’s cross country and track and field programs. “It was at Misericordia that I also garnered the profound sati (read more)

20 Under 40: Dr. Ariane Conaboy

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As a doctor of internal medicine at Physicians Health Alliance, Dr. Ariane M. Conaboy, 34, realizes the importance of human life and how fragile it can be at times. Conaboy graduated from Scranton Prep and the University of Scranton with a double major in (read more)

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By Dave Taylor

You don’t need a mountain of market research to discover that most people dislike the process of buying a new car. Haggling on price and trade-in value, discussing financial packages and extended warranty plans, and waiting while “I check with the manager,” often turns the joy of buying a new car into the bitter resentment of what it takes to close a deal.

If ever there were a brand experience that could be universally improved, new car buying would have to be it. Yet, very few automotive brands have been willing to significantly alter the car buying process, in part, no doubt, because their dealerships generate so much of their profits using the existing system.

Enter Lexus, a leading luxury car brand, with some of the highest customer experience ratings in the industry already, but with a small slice of the luxury car market compared to BMW or Mercedes. About a year ago, Toyota’s premium car brand introduced Lexus Plus, which is a new process to purchase its vehicles in which car buyers deal with one person only and prices are set—no negotiation required, no checking with the manager. The Lexus Plus concept also applies to service visits, where one service manager handles a customer from start to finish.

Among major automotive brands, only Saturn was able to sustain a no-haggle approach to new car buying. During its early success with the concept, some dealers for other brands adopted it, but with Saturn gone, the prevailing model is the one consumers continue to hate.

So, how is Lexus Plus doing? Depends on whom you ask. A year after its introduction, only 13 Lexus dealers out of 237 have adopted the program. Lexus wants us to believe they’re OK with a gradual rollout.

“Not only are dealers learning in this process, we, too, as a manufacturer are learning how to better support them in this transition,” Lexus General Manager of Future Initiatives Greg Kitzens said in “Automotive News,” “It’s one of those things where you’ve really got to burn the ship. You’re not going back, and if you’ve got personnel that are used to doing business very traditionally, they may not fit into the Lexus Plus process.”

It’s hard to tell at this point what Mr. Kitzens is inferring about those who “may not fit into the Lexus Plus process.” Will those dealerships be allowed to continue with business as usual or be forced to convert to the new system? Because Lexus, like most automotive brands, doesn’t own its dealerships, it can be complicated to proclaim the widespread changes that Lexus Plus requires. The majority of its dealerships appear to be waiting to see the results of Lexus Plus in beta form before making the substantial changes it would require.

All of which is evidence of how difficult it can be to change a brand experience for the better. Lexus clearly sees how to improve it for the consumer. Yet, its partners in the process—its dealers—seem to prefer higher profits over better customer satisfaction ratings. For Lexus, the obstacle to changing the car buying brand experience appears to be convincing its own dealership network what’s best for the brand will also be good for their bottom line.

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