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Q & A with Jim Murray

Managing Director, Brian Jessel BMW

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Story by Jim Murray

What’s new at BMW?

 One ofthe biggest changes is thatthere is a new President and CEO of BMW Canada. Mr. Franz Jung arrived shortly after the first quarter of last year. He has a vast amount of experience from his long tenure with BMW Group AG, which has also meant that he has been positioned in many different countries around the world. Mr. Jung is very focused on market share leadership in the luxury segment and one of his main goals is to have the highest level of customer satisfaction in the industry.

These core values are near and dear to Brian Jessel as well. As we have seen, consumers still have an appetite for quality and this is what helped us through the toughest part of 2009. In addition, BMW’s focus on volume has provided some tremendous programs that make purchasing, leasing and financing more affordable than ever. On the product side, we have many new and exciting vehicles arriving. The X6 M and X5 M have just come in:

these high-performance M engines have all the incredible engineering that goes behind the M products. These are fastest SAV’s in the world, producing an astonishing 555hp. We also received the new retractable hardtop Z4 Roadster last spring. The newly designed 2010 7 Series now has xDrive models and is available with an optional M Sport Package. At the end of 2009, we saw the first new 5 Series Gran Turismo followed by the all new 5 Series Sedan by April of this year. Later in 2010, BMW will start production ofthe newly designed 2011 X3 SAVfollowed by the new X1 SAV. As you can see, BMW’s product cycle will create more new and exciting products.

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What are some changes you have made to improve Brian Jessel BMW since accepting your new position as Managing Director?

Like most companies we had to find ways to be more efficient. When there is a slow down in the economy it gives you a chance to look at your processes and make positive changes. Of course, we looked at ways to cut costs in our business but at the same time we wanted to give a higher level of service to our customers. The “Ultimate Customer Experience” has always been one of Brian Jessel’s core values, but having the time to make sure we are doing everything right every day, everytime with every customer is the challenge. We have spent time focusing internally to improve our processes which ultimately provides you a better customer experience. Our strength is in our people and processes. It’s not just one person or one idea but collectively implementing new ideas or procedures that improve our customers’ experience. I would say I’ve brought a new level of understanding to our staff: that customers do not view us as separate departments but as one dealership “Brian Jessel BMW”. The customer experience must be the same throughout the lifetime of vehicle ownership for each customer and in each area of our facility. I also like to apply my life experiences to our business. I travel with myfamily to Hawaii every year and have stayed atthe same hotel the lasttwo years. I won’t mention the name ofthe hotel, butthis year’s trip was a completely different experience from last year. The hotel had laid off 100 staff at the beginning ofthe year and the service level suffered, which ultimately affected my experience. Would I go back there again? Probably not. I recognize that in business you are only as good as your last experience. That’s the “moment of truth”.

What do you think about diesels/ hybrids?

We’ve had tremendous success with the new diesel vehicles. The X5D and 335D are truly amazing performance BMWs with the added bonus of fuel efficiencies that are just unbelievable. My neighbor recently purchased and X5D and tells me he is getting approximately 800 km between fills. As for expanding the diesel line up, it really depends on how the North American markets accept diesel technology. In Europe, it’s the norm and I hope thatdiesel technologywill become a largerpartofthe North American BMW line-up in the future—they’re green, clean, and powerful and extremelyfuel efficient. Hybrids make their debutthis winter with the X6 Active Hybrid. Again this vehicle is more focused on the performance end ofthe market, combining large horsepower with the efficiency of hybrids. The 7 Series will also have a hybrid model out this year. BMW has always found ways to perfectthe petrol engine and make it more efficient as well; we may see the return of 4-cylinder petrol engines in Canada. As market conditions trend towards more fuel efficient vehicles, BMW will expand the available engines to meet this demand.

Are there any new technologies around the cornerthatyou can share?

The way our cars interact with us will continue to evolve. BMW Tele service will launch sometime by the middle of 2010. BMW Teleservice technology has been part of the equipment in some of our products for years while this technology was being developed. This is really futuristic stuff. With Teleservice, your BMW will notify you and the selected BMW retailer of your service requirements such as warning lights and scheduled maintenance. In others words, your BMW calls us so that we can schedule you a service appointment. Keep in mind that your BMW has to be equipped and have an active BMW Assist account in order to make the Teleservice function available. This is just the start of what this system will be capable of doing: there will be a day when we’ll be able to diagnose and possibly repair your car via our wireless Teleservice connection.

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Whataboutthe 1 Series 5-door? Will itbe available in Canada anytime soon?

The current 1 Series 5-door was not built with North America specifications, so if it comes to Canada it would be the next generation model. There needs to be enough demand in North America for BMW to enter this segment so it’s still up in the air.

How did Brian Jessel BMW finish up in 2009?

Fantastic. We sold 191 new cars in December alone! It’s definitely been the year of the deal. It may have been a slow start but really business has been up from last year’s results starting in May and continuing on throughout the rest of the year. BMW has continued with very aggressive programs to keep up the volume on new cars and we have seen Pre-Owned pricing dropping substantially from last year, which has made it more affordable than ever to buy a Pre-Owned BMW. The challenges of early 2009 made us all stronger and better. We have lots to look forward to in B.C. with the Olympics just around the corner—the city is buzzing with excitement. What should we expect to see in 2010 from BMW and Brian Jessel? 2010 will be an exciting year for all businesses. We certainly have a tremendous opportunity to bring more products to our customers in 2010. The BMW certified Pre-Owned volume will increase with the higher number of lease maturities in 2010. This will create a large selection of quality Pre-Owned BMW’s at very affordable pricing and payments. I also know that BMW Canada will want to continue its leadership position in the luxury segment plus achieve record sales objectives for New Vehicle sales; this means a continuation of great products and well positioned vehicles. I believe Brian Jessel BMW will set a new benchmark in Canada by selling over 2000 New BMWs and 1000 Pre-Owned BMWs in 2010. Besides great cars and deals we will expand our service operations to produce quicker service appointment availability times. We are planning on renovating and expanding our customer service lounge and business center to create a new VIP customer lounge area for all our clients. This will incorporate an enclosed private viewing lounge with a variety of entertainment options, beverages and private area for internet or business centre features. In addition, we have plans to increase our BMW Service rentals. We currently have the largest fleet of BMW service loaners in North America with over 100 BMWs but I want to bring that number up to 150! It’s very expensive to maintain this fleet but I truly believe this will give our customers what they want: the “ultimate customer experience”

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