Service Department Grows at Ogilvie Motors

Chris Chase | Published on October 24 2012

To Hannu Ylanko, Mercedes-Benz Canada’s vice-president for national sales, his company’s dealerships are as much about relationships as they are about selling cars.

That’s why he suggests that a $5 million expansion of Ogilvie Motors’ service department is important not only for the dealership itself, but also for Mercedes-Benz as a company.

“We are in the relationship business, and the biggest part of that is the one-on-one relationship between the service and sales staff and the customer,” said Ylanko at a grand opening event to celebrate the opening of Ogilvie’s new service department. “If you don’t give people a reason to come here, they might start thinking about buying something else next time.”

Ogilvie’s sales manager, Leslie Mise, agrees.

“Sales here have increased about 18 per cent a year over the last five years,” says Mise. “It’s been harder and harder to service customers properly, so the dealer principal started the process, about five years ago, of getting easements and permits and architects involved to expand the service department.”

The expansion at the St. Laurent Boulevard facility added nine service bays (for a total of 15) and an indoor customer drop-off area, all added on to a showroom that was brand-new itself four years ago. Mise says the new service department is a welcome change from a temporary service facility the dealership used during construction.

“We’re No. 3 in Canada for customer satisfaction at this dealership,” says Mise. “We’re astounded that we were able to achieve that, when we had to receive new cars here (at the dealership), take them to a service facility 2.5 kilometres away to prepare them, wash them across the street and deliver them (to customers) here and keep customers completely satisfied.”

The new service department opened for business in early September.

Peter Clark, city councillor for Rideau-Rockcliffe Ward, congratulated Ogilvie Motors and owners the Mierins family on behalf of himself and Mayor Jim Watson for “offering outstanding customer service for the last 40 years.”

Ylanko says Mercedes-Benz Canada is on track to sell about 32,000 vehicles in Canada this year, including its tiny Smart Fortwo.

“Three years ago, we were doing 20,000 vehicles. We’ve grown exponentially. When I joined the company 20 years ago, we sold 3,000 vehicles (a year), and our plan is to continue to grow significantly in the next three years.”

He says that even though service intensity has declined (thanks, he says, to better reliability, vehicle longevity and vehicles that require less regular maintenance), the brand’s increased sales necessitated an increase in service capacity, like the one Ogilvie Motors has just made.

“It’s not only us as a manufacturer telling dealers that they ought to do something because, when we come to visit, we want to see beautiful dealerships,” Ylanko says. “The dealer principals who are investing their own cash, they know that it is good for business in the long term.”

Mise says Mercedes-Benz’s diesel-powered BlueTec models are among the strongest sellers at his dealership.

“As someone who orders cars from Mercedes-Benz, every 10 opportunities I have to order, I’ll bring in nine diesels on the sport-utility side,” says Mise. “We have fantastic opportunities for clients to jump into a green-thumb, responsible sport-utility vehicle.”

Given the popularity of Mercedes’ diesels, Mise says he’s looking forward to the arrival of a diesel-powered version of the GLK-Class compact sport-utility.

“We had this beautiful showroom that was built for us,” says Ylanko. “Timing-wise, the service department had to be staggered, but it was done because of the broadening of the product scope and increased sales, and you can’t increase sales without having the capacity. It’s a holistic view of ownership, because the reason why somebody pays $100,000 or $50,000 for transportation is because they feel there’s a value, and part of that value is the experience.”

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