VALDOSTA — When scored in a multitude of categories against 4,000 competitors nationally, a local dealership came out on top. Cass Burch Chrysler Dodge Jeep of Quitman ranked first in the Southeastern United States and second in the nation. Several managers received top awards as well.

Results for the Southeastern United States were released the third week in February, and national results were announced the third week in March.

The dealership was evaluated based on 2005 figures for many areas including actual sales relative to factory forecasts; parts sales measurement; service contract sales; warranty waste; exclusivity; customer sales satisfaction survey measurements; service customers satisfaction survey measurements; fixed first visit percentage (percentage of vehicles fixed the first time by the service department); parts sales, year over year growth; facility and location.

Quitman’s dealership scored better in every category over 500 Southeastern dealers in six states and better in almost every category over 4,000 locations nationally.

Employees who received top awards include Keith Phillips, who tied for first place as Sales Manager of the Year; Keith Mize, who placed first as Finance manager of the year, and Rusty Griffin, who placed first as Service Manager of the Year. Each placed ahead of 500 Southeastern dealers.

Owner Cass Burch said the dealership received the honor because of hard work, not popularity. His team of more than 35 people put in a great deal of effort to achieve exceptional reviews, working together like a sports team aiming for a championship.

“It was the passionate commitment of the employees, the spiritual convictions of the organization, our focus on pleasing the customer the first time and the processes within the dealership that pushed us to the top,” Burch said.

As Southeastern Dealer of the Year, Cass Burch Chrysler Dodge Jeep will be involved in pilot programs. As new products or practices are initiated, the Quitman dealership will be one of a few places nationally to use, review and provide for the Chrysler company.

The accomplishment also gives Cass Burch Chrysler Dodge Jeep a platform nationally with franchisees and other dealers who are contacting the Quitman dealership to trade dialogue and best practices, improving the processes for all involved. Credibility is significantly higher as well.

“You can’t argue with what the facts say our team has achieved,” Burch said. “Everybody wants to belong to something significant, something successful, and this offers a great deal of satisfaction to our team who knows that they are doing (a successful) job.”

When employees run into disappointment, they still know that they are doing things well — better that 4,000 other dealers. They will be encouraged to keep working hard to please customers.

The Valdosta location has also been affected.

“The two locations are so interactive, sharing resources and process as well as training together. They work together to give customers twice as many options, twice as many opportunities to obtain services and repair, twice the inventor and twice the sales staff,” Burch said.

An interesting result from the success Cass Burch Chrysler Dodge Jeep has seen involves the increasing number of people interested in joining the award-winning staff. Burch said he is humbled to find so many good people, and admits that he would entertain meeting more good people. Even though he wasn’t hiring, he took on several extra employees and the business has actually grown to accommodate the need.

Achieving first in the Southeast and second nationally has already benefited customers.

“As a result of this competition, we recognized places within our organization where we could fine-tune processes to improve. It increased our efficiently, which is ultimately better for the customer,” Burch said. “When the customers enjoy the entire process, they are more interested in doing it again.”

This is the first year ever Dealer of the Year competition for Chrysler; however, it will become an annual accomplishment. Cass Burch Chrysler Dodge Jeep of Quitman is already ranked in the top five after only three months in 2006.

His team members work hard every day to ensure efficient practices and pleased customers; being the best is their vision.

“I have always believed that people without a vision perish,” Burch said. “My team has a vision, and we are aggressively pursuing it on a daily basis.”

The Quitman team’s individual winners display trophies in their offices, and the dealership showcases its top placing trophies in the showroom for everyone to see and remember what it takes to remain at the top.

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