Friday, 19 January 2007

Lexus Center Experience

Ok most of the time when it comes to review, we tend to focus only on the car itself, well this time I would like to rant a little about the showroom experience itself. So who am I going to talk about, it’s no other than the spanking new Lexus Center at Mutiara Damansara in Malaysia.

So what is there to talk about, well we Malaysians have always been given the standard treatment (read as: we only sell expensive cars to people who can afford it) when it comes to being greeted and then attended to at the showrooms. Let me put my hand to my heart and state a personal claim, I have not been received/treated this well, at a car showroom in Malaysia, period. When I compare to the other luxury marques, they don’t come close. (I am sure you know who I am referring to, right?)

The minute you walk in you notice the appearance, layout, finishing, the way the staff is dressed, even the toilets are on par (or even above) with some 5 star hotels here.

Part of the Lexus philosophy is giving the Lexus experience to its owners (and potential owners) and from what I have seen; they are living up to it. (compared to the Lexus experience I once had when I was visiting US sometime back) Apart from just buying a car, buying a Lexus is also buying into the service that they provide.

Please allow me to walk you through what we encountered. We made an appointment to test the GS300, so upon our arrival we asked for the product consultant. (that’s what they call their sales personnel and by right they should, I'll tell you why later on) The Customer Relations Manager and Product Consultant greeted us and asked us to have a seat at their cozy and comfortable lounge while waiting to prep the car. While waiting we were offered drinks of our choice and snacks which was good, then off we went for our test drive, which lasted about an hour.

The product consultant was very knowledgeable about the car. One thing which I think Lexus has done differently and to some extent correct from my perspective is that they have gone out to recruit people who were not from the car industry. WHAT!? You might be asking, have I gone nuts claiming that’s a good thing? For one they are hiring people who are car enthusiasts which say a lot more than just getting people who used to sell cars but may not have any passion about cars. The Lexus guy was good in explaining not just about their cars but also gave a pretty unbiased view of their competitors. He was ready to admit the cars strengths and weaknesses when comparing. Thumbs up! Frankly speaking hats off to Lexus for taking this approach.

When we got back, we sat, had more drinks and food (Perrier water, cappuccinos and carrot cakes) and talk more about cars. What more can I say, Malaysians and food is always the right way to go. They really knew how to make us feel very comfortable and at home, to the extent I felt the urge to want to deal more with these folks.

Yes, you may say that they are new and all that, but it’s this type of service and approach which will slowly but surely chip away the sales of the other luxury brands. To date they have sold 12 LS460L and 16 GS300 since their opening in early January 2007. Dare I add that these are not your “cheap” luxury alternatives. They are priced at RM 777,448 and RM 403,000 respectively sans insurance. Right smack into the 7 series/S class and 5 series/E class territory. All I can say is if these established brands don’t buck up their showroom, service and training their personnel better, they might just be in trouble.

Now if only Lexus GS300 drove, handled and rode as well as their competitors (they are not far off the mark though) the Germans had better be worried. Only time will tell, but don’t hold your breath.

Written by: Dan
19 Jan 2007

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