4.14.2008

Buying a Lexus: A Process Not as Lean as the Car

My wife and I bought a car this weekend – a pre-owned Lexus, which we purchased from a Lexus dealer.

I was curious to see what it would be like to purchase a vehicle from a dealer of high-end products from the world’s leading lean company. While generally better than experiences I’ve had at some car dealers, the process was not as lean as it could have been.

Like any Lexus dealership, this one was attractive and pleasant, and everyone we dealt with was polite and eager to help.

There were a few traditional sales tactics I could have done without. For example, we initially looked at a car bearing a large “certified pre-owned” sticker, which means it comes with a three-year warranty. When we began talking seriously about that car, it turned out it really wasn’t certified. It met the company’s guidelines for certification, and they were prepared to certify it, but that significantly increased the cost. (We ultimately bought a different car.)

And of course, we had to go through the charade of our salesman running back and forth between us and his manager during negotiations.

However, what I really want to talk about is the subject that resonates with any lean devotee: waste in the process.

There is a lot of paperwork involved in buying a car, and the initial parts of it with our salesman were all completed by hand. Often this involved writing down the same information on several different forms.

Lean is not, and should not be, primarily about technology, but this was clearly a case where some good software would have streamlined the process. Our salesman should have been able to enter all our information into a computer once, and then have a content management system copy that information into the various forms that were required.
(And were they all really required? I’m guessing the answer is probably not.)

We chose to finance the car through Lexus, so when we were done meeting with our salesman in the pre-owned building, we had to walk across the property to the main, new-car building, where the finance people were located. (Can you say waste of movement?) After waiting for half an hour, we met with a finance guy, who seemed to have the right software – all of his forms were easily printed from a computer.

Again, there were some sales tactics I didn’t care for. Lexus wanted us to enroll for several kinds of insurance coverage, which I deemed unnecessary. But it was only through my continued questioning that we were supplied with clear information on the costs of this insurance, and we had to opt out, rather than being asked if we wanted to opt in.

I’m happy with the car we got. But I wish Toyota would do a bit more to work with its dealers. Lean is supposed to be focused on providing value, as defined by customers. I see value in the product we got, but not as much in the process of getting it.

2 comments:

addysmith92 said...

It’s nearly impossible to find experienced people in this particular subject, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

addysmith92 said...

10 years later … ” Finish soon , thanks for patient “
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