While Shannon Rake has spent “a lot of time in the dealership world,” she’ll also tell you that her first love, at least from a career standpoint, was as a veterinary technician.
But that was before she met Doug Rake, her husband and the dealer principal at both Lambton Kia and, more recently, Lambton Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, which was acquired in May of this year.
Today, and since the family acquired Lambton Kia in 2012, Shannon’s role has been to head a winning effort to dramatically improve customer service rankings at the dealership as director of customer relations.
It was an opportunity that Doug Rake encouraged his wife to take on, perhaps seeing in her the kind of sensitivity with people that she had already exercised in life, the couple having raised four boys (one of whom, Clark, manages marketing efforts at the two dealerships).
Since then, Shannon’s natural skills as someone who can empathize with customers and their experiences have been put to the best possible use.
The couple first met at a dealership in Chatham, where Shannon had taken a short break from a career in the office of a veterinarian. Although she ultimately decided she “missed the animals,” her connection with Doug obviously continued in the best possible way.
While the daily interaction with dealership customers is taken care of by a great staff—Diane and Stacey were singled out by name as well as Emma who initially makes most after-service calls—there’s little question that Shannon’s role is a pivotal one.
That’s where her gifts of empathy and listening to what a customer is really saying tend to shine.
“You have to be a good listener,” says Shannon. “I don’t interrupt a customer when they’re telling me their story but once they’re finished, I talk to them about how we can fix this.”
And then there’s the situations that truly stand out.
Like the family that had a problem with a vehicle’s air conditioning system when they were travelling. When they returned to town it was for just a few days before they had planned to head out on another trip.
“We managed to get them in just in time for that second trip,” said Shannon. “I called the customer shortly afterwards and she told me she’d just mailed me a thank you letter for the wonderful service. It was such a sweet thing for someone to do.”
Shannon is particularly proud of the dealership winning a 2017 Outstanding Business Achievement Award from the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce—in the Customer Service (Large) category.
The trophy for that award remains in her husband’s office but that may be about to change.
“It really should be on my desk,” she said with a playful chuckle and a broad smile.
This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of Lambton Shield magazine.