Vegreville sits in the heart of Alberta. Known as the home of the world’s largest pysanka (Ukrainian Easter Egg), this small town of 6000 residents stands for fostering strong community bonds and supporting its local businesses. One such business is Vegreville Ford.
At vegreville ford integrity and customer satisfaction are paramount. Brian Baron and his team of dedicated automotive sales and service professionals aim to be as transparent as possible in each customer transaction. Through creating strong, lasting customer relationships, Baron has managed to build a successful business and significantly contribute back to his community.
From Humble Beginnings to Tremendous Success
As a young boy, Brian Baron loved everything to do with automobiles. He read every publication he could get his hands on. He collected the advertising brochures at local dealers. He memorized every technical and design aspect of each brand make and model.
His father, an auto salesman, owned and operated a used car facility as Baron grew up. Baron became a constant presence on the lot, learning as much as possible about the automobile industry.
“I could tell you every powertrain combination available in every domestically built vehicle,” explains Baron, “I didn’t know it at the time, but my father was training me. I learned through osmosis; I listened to him talk to customers and identified effective processes.”
In 1974, Baron earned a position at a local dealership as a sales and parts professional. At 19 years of age, he was promoted to Parts Manager. Throughout his 17-year tenure with the dealership, several organizations recognized Baron as one of the best auto sales people in Canada. In 1989, he single-handedly sold over 445 new and used vehicles.
By 1991, Baron decided he was ready to own his own dealership. He, alongside his late partner Dale Brodziak, bought Vegreville Ford together.
“Dale was the catalyst that put the deal together to buy the dealership,” says Baron, “It never could have happened without him.”
Upon purchasing Vegreville Ford, Baron and Brodziak expected to sell about 150 new units annually. However, the duo quickly began selling over 300 new vehicles per year. Customers flocked to the dealership from all over the province. Many came to Vegreville from the closest major metropolis, Edmonton (about 96 kilometres Northwest).
Vegreville Ford has continued to thrive over the past 22 years. The dealership has earned the Ford Motor Company’s “President’s Award” for outstanding customer satisfaction in service and sales over 20 times. The Vegreville Chamber of Commerce has awarded Vegreville Ford the “Business of the Year” designation three times.
Serious About Service
“From day one, we decided we weren’t going to focus on profitability. We’re here to keep our customers and employees happy. That’s really what we’re all about, take care of your people and the profits will follow” says Baron in an interview with the CBJ editorial team.
“I try to look at every interaction from the point of view of the customer. They’re spending their money and putting their trust in us. I want to keep every transaction as honest and transparent as possible.”
About 70% of all Vegreville Ford sales stem from either referrals or return customers. In a small community such as Vegreville, maintaining a positive reputation is vital to the survival of one’s business.
The focus on customer satisfaction is apparent in every aspect of Baron’s business practices. The main page of the Vegreville Ford website proudly invites any unhappy visitor to call Baron at any time on his personal number. Guests to the facility will often see Baron checking in on every customer and employees, ensuring all needs are met as best as possible.
“In today’s market, the buyer is highly educated,” explains Baron, “They know what the right cost is and where to get it. Price is no longer a deciding factor. We need to maximize the experience the customer has in our dealership. This means listening to their needs, answering all their questions, respecting their time, and keeping the atmosphere as friendly as possible.”
In early 2014, Vegreville Ford completed substantial building renovations. The changes included a 2400 square foot expansion of the main showroom and an updated, sleek aesthetic design.
“I’m extremely happy with the new look of the building,” Baron says, “There’s so much more sun beaming into the showroom. It makes for a very positive atmosphere.”
Baron’s success is matched in his personal contributions back to his community. He has acted as an alter servant with the Vegreville Ukrainian Catholic Church, assisted in economic development committees, sat on the mayor’s and councillor’s remuneration committee, and been involved with land use bylaw development within the town. For the next two years, Baron will sit on the board of directors for the Motor Dealer Association of Alberta.
No business can operate without a dedicated, hard-working team. At Vegreville Ford, finding and keeping the right staff members is integral to the dealership’s success. At the very start of the hiring process, Baron ensures that all potential candidates know that customer happiness comes first.
Baron explains, “At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is that, regardless of what the employees agenda is or the kind of day they are having, the customer’s needs must be met. We do a lot of unorthodox things to keep the customer happy. Each customer is unique – and if they want goat’s milk in their coffee as their vehicle is serviced, so be it!”
“My staff members understand this; that’s what makes them the greatest employees in this industry,” Baron adds.
This driven, team-oriented approach doesn’t end at the sale. The Vegreville Ford team will take every possible step to go above and beyond any customer request. “We are here to provide all visitors with a no nonsense, gimmick free, professional purchasing and service experience. I am personally available, at your disposal, 24/7 at 780 603 7752”
For more information on Vegreville Ford, please visit www.vegford.ca