Amber Smith joined Lakeland Toyota in Lakeland, FL, in the summer of 2018.
This was only her second job in the auto repair business. Her first was at another local Toyota dealership where she started to find her passion for automotive service and repair.
“I used to be the girl who knew nothing about cars,” Smith said, “and ended up marrying a master mechanic and working on cars in our spare time.”
In less than a year on the job, Smith found two things that she’s now passionate about: fixing cars and helping people. As a Lakeland Toyota assistant service manager, Smith has the opportunity to help the dealership’s customers every day.
“Every person has a story,” Smith said, “and this job is about providing options for people.”
She recalls an elderly woman who arrived at the dealership’s service center earlier this year, panicked because a warning light came on in her car. The woman’s husband had just recently passed away and she didn’t know what the light meant, so she feared the worst. She pulled into Lakeland Toyota where Smith comforted her and let her know the light was simply signaling that one of her tires was low on air.
Moments like this drive Smith to help customers of all backgrounds understand and take care of their vehicles, especially those who don’t traditionally know a lot about cars.
“When I started working at Lakeland Toyota, I mentioned the idea of having a women’s car clinic and they said, ‘We love that idea!’” Smith said. On February 21, 2019, Lakeland Toyota hosted their first-ever car care clinic for female drivers, helping them to understand the basics of car maintenance, and to feel more comfortable addressing their vehicles’ needs.
“The first class was all about tires,” Smith said. “We had 35 women show up. They were so engaged, even the technicians who stayed to help perform demonstrations were blown away at how engaged and interested these women were.”
Attendees loved the clarification on the not-so-obvious basics of automotive maintenance. One attendee noted, “Of particular value was the choice of focusing on tire care and maintenance as the primary subject,” she said. “They emphasized the importance of having the basic knowledge and understanding of how to verify the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressures, how to check them, what tools are included with the vehicle’s spare tire equipment and what impact improper tire inflation has on a vehicle’s wear and performance.”
Not only was the clinic beneficial for the women who attended, but for Lakeland Toyota as well. According to Smith, the women who attended the clinic are now loyal to Lakeland Toyota after the program. “It started with our own clientele base and I highly encouraged all of the ladies to bring a friend, sister or coworker. By doing so, we had 22 of our own clients and 13 new clients brought by friends.”
Smith feels very strongly that other dealerships and automotive shops out there should follow suit and hold a clinic of their own. “I am so passionate about others joining and seeing for themselves the unbelievable response from the women,” Smith said. “If we empower these women with the knowledge and know-how, it changes their life! For the dealership or shop, it is this beautiful symbiotic relationship because now the female clients are more willing to do important routine maintenance that always got overlooked or declined in the past.”
Smith continued, “Knowledge ultimately saves the clients so much money in the long run while creating lifetime bonds of trust between dealer and client. Every dealer should have an open door policy to promote trust and honesty too.”
Smith believes another way to provide Lakeland Toyota customers with excellent service is by offering convenient payment options on vehicle repairs and service.
Synchrony, a premier consumer financial services company, offers the
Synchrony Car Care™ credit card, offering motorists the convenience of one card to pay for comprehensive auto care at more than 500,000 locations across 25 categories — including dealership service departments.
Synchrony Car Care is a no annual-fee* credit card that offers a dedicated payment solution for both planned and unexpected car expenses. This solution provides dealers with the opportunity to offer customers an option for Promotional Financing for major purchases of $199 or more.**
Two months after Smith was hired at Lakeland Toyota, Synchrony Car Care applications increased by around 500 percent at the dealership’s repair center. A few months later, the dealership saw another 300 percent bump in applications. In half a year, it became obvious that Smith was leading the charge and changing how service and repairs were being offered to Lakeland-area drivers. So, what’s her secret?
“When I promote the Synchrony Car Care credit card, I don’t say negative words. I just give them the terms of the financing program,” Smith said. “I say, ‘This is the total, but if you want to use the card, you can pay this much per month. If you make your minimum payment each month and pay it off in the required amount of time, then you can pay off this service over time instead of paying for all of it today.’”
She strongly believes that every customer can find a reason to rely on Promotional Financing.
“Synchrony Car Care sells itself,” Smith said. “I offer it to every single customer. I was at a sales meeting recently and the speaker said that two out of every 10 people are going to take you up on your offer. So, if you’re only going to get a 20-30 percent close ratio and you want to get more business, you have to talk to more people.”
She also believes that offering a financing program, like Synchrony Car Care, is an excellent way to grow incremental business in service centers and repair shops.
“It is my biggest closing tool,” Smith said. “New people ask me, ‘How do you sell $2,000 jobs without blinking an eye?’ and I tell them it’s because of Synchrony Car Care. When I explain to them how they can make their payments over time, people sign on the line.”
Lakeland Toyota, like all Synchrony Car Care partner locations, enjoys additional benefits beyond Promotional Financing. Partners are able to tap into Synchrony’s marketing resources for free POP materials, advertising guidelines, customer contact list management and more.
Additionally, partner locations can offer associate training, hosted and provided by Synchrony, that can help associates, like Smith, learn how to leverage their
Synchrony Car Care program to assist customers and close sales.
Along with friendly customer service that treats your customers the way you’d treat them, Synchrony Car Care offers a strong partnership for business growth and success.
*For new accounts: Purchase APR is 29.99%. Minimum Interest Charge is $2.
**Subject to credit approval. Minimum monthly payments required. See merchant for details.