Jim Wilson Chevrolet Buick GMC

Located in Orillia, Ont., Jim Wilson Chevrolet Buick GMC sells some of the most iconic global automotive brands and always strives for the best in customer satisfaction. Following in his father’s footsteps, the Wilson name has been tied to the Chevrolet brand since 1969, and Jim has had his own Chevrolet dealership in Orillia since 1992, with two of his children working at the dealership today, carrying on the family tradition. Known as the Silverado Sheriff, Wilson’s love of the car business has been a lifelong passion, and his pride in his business resonates through the business.

The Canadian Business Journal spoke with Wilson about what makes a dealership successful in a Canadian community such as the Simcoe County.

“We are representing some of the most established brands in the automotive market, some of which are over 100 years old, and with very successful and popular car lines. Chevrolet, Buick and GMC – and the Corvette flagship brand as well – these brands create terrific products for their customers, and are very happy to be part of this family of brands. I don’t think anyone can say that these brands don’t have great vehicles in any of their lines: Corvette, the popular trucks, the exciting Buick lineup, which is almost completely refreshed within the past 24 months, exciting cars like Buick Encore, redesigned Chevy Equinox on the ground now, and Terrain just around the corner… the list can go on. The manufacturers had done a great job for us, and there are lots of positives happening in our world and the world of General Motors.”

The automotive world changes swiftly, with fiercely competitive international car brands working hard to get their share of the markets. “Yes, there is much more competition than there was 34 years ago when we started,” says Wilson. “That being said, GM has a huge market share, and has been gaining ground, looking at another record year, looking at the excess of two million cars across Canada. GM is having a great year, and Chevrolet has been having fantastic years. Putting it all together: it’s about great brands, product lineups, a strengthening economy, and great staff on our payroll. We are looking at a perfect storm.”

When it comes to sales in Simcoe County, Silverado and Sierra pickups lead the way in truck sales, while Chevy Equinox, Terrain and Cruze also represent high volume vehicles, with Chevy Trax and Buick Encore picking up a lot of speed.

But even the brands themselves provide great trust and value to the customers, they would not go far in a community without people dedicated to provide the best customer experience and service. “Our employees are likely the most important piece of our business. Our employees are at the core of everything we do, and we have an exceptional team. There is even a standing joke as to the question “What does an average person make at the dealership?” the answer is “I have no idea, I don’t have any average people,” remarks Wilson.

This attitude toward valuing the employees, translates into beyond-exceptional employee retention. Out of the 52 employees, some have been with the dealership for over a decade, and some since Wilson opened the doors in 1992.

No business in a smaller municipality would find much in the way of success without the backing of the community. To that end, Wilson and his team generously give back to their community with involvement in numerous local charities and events. “We are involved with such things as the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, to which we have been contributing for over 25 years; contributing to local schools, sports teams, and our latest contribution to Orillia 2018 Ontario Winter Games,” he says.

The latest commitment to the community is the corporate partnership for the Orillia 2018 Ontario Winter Games, hosted by the City of Orillia in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. The Games will attract 3,200 participants including the young athletes (12-18 years of age) who will compete in 25 different sports over the four-day event, and will help generate nearly $6 million in economic activity for Orillia and area.

In the release on May 18, 2017, Gill Tillmann, Games Organizing Committee Chair, said, “This is going to be one of the largest multi-sport events ever to be hosted in our community and we are thrilled to welcome Jim Wilson and his business as our corporate sponsor. Our objective is to involve the entire community in this project and to present the best Games ever, and this is such a wonderful way to begin our partnerships with the community.”

Whether it’s the community or business, Wilson and his team strives to give their best at every turn. Wilson believes that the purchase of a vehicle is only the first step in the customer relationship, and the team is committed to provide an exceptional experience every step of the way throughout the lifespan of the vehicle, and building long-standing relationships with the customer.

“Our Customer Satisfaction Index [CSI] is 96.5% and our service is about 93 per cent. We know we can never be perfect, but this is an incredibly high number, and it speaks volumes about what efforts our team makes every single day.”

Selling a vehicle is just part of the process. Keeping customers happy throughout the ownership is a must. This long-term vision in customer satisfaction earned the Jim Wilson Chevrolet DealerRater’s Consumer Satisfaction Award for three years in a row.