Based in the heart of the technology sector, Volkwagen Waterloo has grown alongside the ‘Silicon Valley of Canada’ through its 40 years in business. Founded in 1973, Volkswagen Waterloo has been led for the last 20 years by dealer principal Dietrich Look, a 53-year Volkswagen veteran. Look spoke with The Canadian Business Journal this month about the dealership’s place in the local market, its business philosophies, and its initiatives for the road ahead.
“We enjoy our location being in the middle of the high-tech and university sector here in Waterloo. We have grown over the years with the community and it has been a rewarding journey.”
Apart from the residential growth in the area, Volkswagen Waterloo benefits from the surrounding industry, since the demographic profile of the people employed in this field match that of a Volkswagen buyer very well. The dealership was one of the early adopters of smartphone technology, demonstrating its loyalty to the tech community by equipping each of its sales staff members with a BlackBerry, to allow readily available access and to establish a unique connection between clients and staff. Volkwagen Waterloo recognizes the foundation that Research in Motion (RIM) has set in the community, and today many employees of the area’s tech businesses have become loyal clients of Volkswagen Waterloo.
“We have adapted to the area and the particular business culture around us; it has shaped us in the way we look and operate. To me, it is the outlook that a dealership embodies what matters. We appear quite casual but are knowledgeable and enthusiastic in what we do. Our attitude towards our clients is dictated by fairness and respect. We have buy-in from every staff member and that’s our success.”
While much of the success of any business is about ‘location, location, location’, Volkswagen Waterloo’s reputation in the local marketplace is a key part of its achievements. While the products at every Volkswagen dealership are the same, at Volkswagen Waterloo everyone strives to provide a positively unique experience for clients. Met with respectful and intelligent service from the team of 24 committed employees, guests enjoy the experience of visiting the dealership. There are four Volkswagen dealerships in the area, so a high concentration makes for a very competitive environment. “Our style is quite distinct and we are known for that. We are big on relationship building, in sales as well as in the service and parts departments. So far we have been quite successful in this area and we are very happy where we are in the Waterloo marketplace.”
In recognition of its commitment to customer service, Volkswagen Waterloo has won the prestigious Wolfsburg Crest Club Award for six consecutive years. This award is presented by Volkswagen Canada annually to dealerships that deliver an exceptional customer experience and reach or exceed other important performance targets. Look points to the collective team effort as credit for the company’s success. “We have built a staff over the years who work together as a team with a common goal and we experience very low staff turnover. As a result we have enjoyed strong performances both financially and in customer satisfaction.”
Volkswagen has recently celebrated its 60th anniversary in Canada. The strength of the brand was shown through record sales for the manufacturer and Volkswagen Waterloo alike in recent years and continuing into 2013. “Though the recent recession cast a bit of a shadow over the industry, we weathered the storm pretty well,” Look said. “That may be brand or location related, but the area around us remained quite positive during challenging times.”
A strong developing trend within the automotive industry is greater consumer demand for more fuel efficient technology, which means more advanced product offerings that promote cost savings and more frugal fuel consumption. As Look noted, “We have had diesels in Canada since 1977. Our products offer leading engineering and the latest clean diesel technology produces much quieter, more efficient and powerful vehicles. The TDI Diesel option is available on the Beetle, Golf, Golf Wagon, Jetta, Passat, and Touareg. And we added a Jetta Hybrid with a powerful 1.4 TSI engine to the model lineup this year.”
Volkswagen Waterloo is in a position to look forward to steady growth. Plans for an expansion not too far down the road are in place. Globally, Volkswagen AG is energetically pursuing its goal of being the premier automotive manufacturer by 2018. That a Volkswagen has been named World Car of the Year (Volkswagen Polo, VW up! and Golf twice in 2009 and 2013) in four of the past five years illustrates that the brand is well on its way to achieving this ambitious target.
With a fine understanding of the local market and a strong tradition of excellent customer service, everyone at Volkswagen Waterloo is excited about contributing to the continued success of this innovative brand.