Hass Hijazi, General Managing Partner with Genesis London, is used to being first.
At a special ceremony Thursday in London, Ont., Hijazi became the leader of the first automotive retailer in the world to be formally honoured as meeting the rigorous standards to be recognized as being “In Partnership with Forbes Travel Guide.”
Representatives from Genesis London, Genesis Motors Canada, Canadian auto dealer and others gathered for a special presentation where Hijazi was presented with a special plaque honouring the achievement.
In his remarks, Eric Marshall, Director, Genesis Canada, went through a series of firsts for Hijazi, including being the first distributor in the Genesis network to open a Genesis Retail Experience Center. “I wanted to take this opportunity to say congratulations for being the first, being a trailblazer, and really being a true leader within the Genesis network,” said Marshall.
“Genesis London is now the first to be in partnership with Forbes Travel Guide, which is again, a huge accomplishment on its own. It shows the sheer commitment required by your team to put in the right processes,” said Marshall, adding in an interview with Canadian auto dealer that the distinction not only recognizes the luxury amenities of the facility, but also the processes throughout the sales and ownership experiences that create an elevated guest experience.
During his remarks, Hijazi said from his earliest days in the car business, he was driven to be first in everything he did. “It was easy to see that being first gives you a competitive edge. If you step out and are the first to do something, whether you succeed or fail, you win either way. That was the attitude ingrained in me by the Finch family and by my partner Ryan Finch,” he said.
The “In Partnership with Forbes Travel Guide” is an automotive industry first, and builds on the reputation of Forbes Travel Guide as the global authority on luxury hospitality. The “In Partnership with Forbes Travel Guide” recognition is similar to how leading hotels, resorts and spas around the world earn their recognition for excellence in hospitality.
To achieve the recognition, Genesis London team members had to go through extensive training and coaching to learn more about luxury hospitality practices and then be assessed on how effectively they implemented these luxury standards for their guests.
Before formally presenting the plaque to Hijazi, Alexandra Miziolek, Manager, Training & Operational Excellence, Genesis Motors Canada, explained the significance of the achievement. “What a historic day for Genesis London,” she said. “For the Genesis London team it represents your commitment and your dedication to delivering an exceptional guest experience. I think it gives our guests confidence that they’re doing business with an exceptional company.”
Miziolek praised the importance of Genesis Motors Canada’s partnership with Forbes Travel Guide and Clarify Group (who helped launch and administer the program for Genesis Canada). “It’s an impactful partnership and relationship and we truly are making a difference,” she said.
Darren Slind, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Clarify Group, a Markham, Ont.-based research and consultancy firm, was on hand for the special ceremony. “We looked at all of the touch points in the guest journey,” said Slind. “What’s impressive is the consistency with which the Genesis London team delivers that elevated experience to their guests.”
Slind said Genesis London was not only the first retailer in Canada, or North America to be recognized with the honour, they were “the first automotive retailer on earth” to have done so.
During his remarks, Hijazi admitted that before embarking on the journey to elevate their guest experience, he was a bit skeptical. “We thought we were already doing a great job with luxury. When Genesis approached us and said we’ve entered into an agreement with Clarify to make us better, I thought ‘how much better can we be? We’re already number one in guest experience,’” he said. “Wow, my eyes were opened. The curriculum they put together with Genesis was outstanding. There were things we didn’t even think about,” he said.
Hijazi said he was humbled by the recognition but deflected the praise to his team, notably Darlene Vallas, Operations Manager, who he said did an outstanding job serving their guests and maintaining the facility to the highest standards. “I’m super proud to be accepting this award on behalf of everyone in this room and the team,” he said.
After the ceremony, Genesis London team members posed for pictures with the Forbes Travel Guide plaque that can now be displayed within the distributorship as a symbol to guests that they can expect a luxury experience.
In an interview with Canadian auto dealer after the ceremony, Hijazi said that after his team went through the training on true luxury experiences, they started to notice all the little details it takes to deliver a great experience. “We now get comments from customers that they notice the little things. They talk about how great the cappuccino was, or that it was nice to go into the washroom and have mouthwash available. We hoped they would notice all these little things and they do, and they are telling their friends,” said Hijazi.
In an interview, Eric Marshall said the foundations for a great guest experience have always been part of the Genesis DNA, starting from a great omnichannel and online experience, and carrying throughout. “This amazing partnership with Forbes Travel Guide is taking this guest experience to the next level,” he said.
“What we’ve done now is we’ve aligned ourselves a lot closer from a facility standpoint, but also from a hospitality standpoint to what you would come to expect out of a five star hotel or a five star spa, as far as an experience goes. So this is the future for the brand and we’re pleased that Genesis London is the first to be able to enter into a partnership with Forbes Travel Guide.”
As other distributorships across the Genesis network achieve the standard, they too will be recognized with a plaque they can display in their facilities.
In an interview with Canadian auto dealer, Alexandra Miziolek, said that for many OEMs the focus on the guest experience is on the sales experience, and how well they are doing with their guests during the transaction. For Genesis retailers, they focus holistically on the entire guest experience, and now they have added in more of a focus on a luxury experience. “It solidifies our commitment as a brand to the guest experience. It’s one of our pillars,” she said.
Miziolek said that even when they hold training events, they consider the small touches and the experiences they are providing, to help their network truly appreciate the luxury experience and the attention to detail required to deliver it. “I’d like to think that our training is not only practical, and focused on the guest experience, but experiential as well,” she said.
With regard to the Genesis London facility, it looks more like a grand lobby of a hotel or a high-end retail store than a traditional dealership. “It is really reminiscent of a very nice boutique hotel,” said Hijazi during a tour to kick off the proceedings. “As you walk in, you see all the beautiful offerings that Genesis has to offer, and there are beautiful, comfortable seating areas all over the place.”
The facility itself is spotless, well appointed and centered around the guest experience. Even on the service side, guests drive up to the automated service doors, which open to a concierge-style greeting from what Genesis calls a Genesis Ownership Manager, who greets them and welcomes them for their service visit. That bay is for inspection and walkarounds, but the service is done at the Hyundai dealership next door.
For auto retailers trying to elevate their game, Genesis is helping to redefine what vehicle ownership can feel like.