Persistence pays dividends at Doug’s
Shoreline, Wash.—For more than 10 years of ownership, Doug’s Northwest Cadillac has had its challenges, said Marc Ikegami who owns the store with his father, Doug Ikegami, who also owns Mazda and Hyundai stores in nearby Lynnwood.
“We purchased the struggling store in August 2007 and then in 2008 fuel prices rose, there was an economic downturn, and GM was in the process of reorganization,” said Marc Ikegami, who held key positions at BMW Seattle and his father’s Mazda store prior to the purchase of the Cadillac dealership. “I’m a passionate car guy and I love every aspect of the business.”
“We also had major road work for years along Aurora Avenue, for some time directly in front of our store, but we persevered and now our lean times and sacrifices are coming to fruition, largely due to our dedicated staff and a reinvented Cadillac division.”
With tenured parts and service department leaders, Doug’s has indeed survived what may have been challenges and today is a leader in wholesale parts and providing service to more than 650 vehicles a month.
Parts Manager Phil Dorsett, who has more than 30 years experience in the parts business, said he likes being involved in the Wholesale Leaders (WSL) that represents more than 25 brands from 20 western Washington dealerships. “It’s an amazing system to get all the various brands of parts delivered from Bellingham to the Eastside to Olympia every day.”
Using various hubs, WSL provides up to three times a day delivery to various communities using delivery vehicles supplied by each dealership, Dorsett said. “We are the hub for Whidbey Island, which we service daily, as well as delivering twice daily to the Snohomish area and local deliveries near the store.”
With GM wholesale parts sales ranging from $100,000 to $150,000 a month, Dorsett said his sales have experienced increases in the past year, even though he maintains a modest, but well-managed, inventory. “I’ve had a good following of wholesale accounts since 1986, so we’ve been able to grow the business, which is 90 percent collision parts.”
With seven staff, including one back counter parts specialist who handles the service department, Dorsett said the retail parts business at the Cadillac store is minimal. “Our focus is on wholesale and with WSL we’ve able to experience growth. And while it’s sometimes price challenging with multiple shop operators, we are dedicated to taking care of our customers and providing exceptional delivery. Cycle times are important to collision shops and we want to meet their needs.”
Wes Forsythe is the service manager who works in the same office as Service Director John Melchiode. “The service department is a 4,000-square-foot shop with 17 bays located in a standalone building behind the main store,” Forsythe said, adding that there are nine technicians, including two GM Master Technicians and two Master Technicians. Two service advisers handle customer needs at the south end of the store adjacent to service manager’s office.
Forsythe, who has been at the store for 23 years under two previous dealership names, was formerly a technician. Melchiode has been in the business since 1995 at dealerships in Texas and joined the Doug’s staff five years ago.
“We have a excellent relationship with the parts department and enjoy working with Phil and his staff,” Forsythe said. “Mike Swigart, who handles our parts, will often deliver them to the techs in the service department.”
Every tech in the shop has a laptop and a PC, the pair said, adding that they use both GM factory and other tools for diagnostic work. “Each technician receives 40-50 hours of GM training each year, equivalent to a metric of 200 percent training,” Melchiode said.
“We have a high level of sales to service retention, with 83 percent of new cars sold being serviced in the 7-12 month period, and 88 percent in the 13-72 month time frame,” Melchiode said, adding that much of that is due to Doug’s Signature Valet Service, which allows customers in King and Snohomish counties to call a special number, have their vehicle picked up for service or repair, washed, and returned to the home or work place.
“We’re the only dealer to offer this special valet service and it’s popular with many of our customers,” Melchiode said.
For those customers who visit the store for service, Melchiode said there is a great deal of interaction between customers and technicians. “It makes each more involved and truly helps in the repair process because the techs better understand what the customer is concerned with,” Forsythe said.
Forsythe and Melchiode said growing quality technicians is challenging, noting that they are supportive of the GM ASEP program instructed at nearby Shoreline Community College. “Our shop is a very special place, and as we grow we want techs who want to be part of that culture, which works well for everyone in the service department,” Melchiode said.