The Bowman Chevrolet team earned the General Motors’ Chevrolet Dealer of the Year award through outstanding customer service. Photo by Phil Custodio
BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
For Katie Bowman Coleman, president of Bowman Chevrolet, winning the General Motors’ Chevrolet Dealer of the Year award stems from a promise she made to her father, the late John Bowman.
“I made a promise to make my dad proud,” Katie said. “I think dad would be proud of all of us for continuing what he started.”
When John Bowman, who passed away in 2012, opened his Chevrolet dealership at the corner of M-15 and Dixie Highway in 1984, his vision was to be the best hometown dealer, period. That meant treating employees and customers the way he wanted to be treated, leading by example, and supporting the community.
Katie and her team earned the award the same way.
“Focus on taking care of customers and make it a great experience for them, and the rest takes care of itself,” she said. “Each department has to work together and solve problems. This team does that. I’m so proud of everyone. Thank you for taking care of the customers every day, and taking care of each other.”
The Chevrolet Dealer of the Year list honors 60 Chevrolet dealers from across the country, 12 per region, based on exceptional performance in sales, service, and customer satisfaction.
This is Bowman Chevrolet’s first time receiving the award, but it won’t be the last, Katie said.
“This has always been a goal. We came very close last year,” she said. “We tipped the scales this year and won. I plan to keep at it in 2018.”
It was a 30-year journey for Katie to reach this point. She went into retail fashion after college, working for Ralph Lauren in New York City, and also Ralph Lauren in Sydney, Australia.
But, realizing she missed her home, she came back to Michigan, at first continuing to work for Ralph Lauren in this state. That’s when her father gave her some advice about the car business.
“My dad reminded me, this is retail too, a very customer focused business, a dynamic business,” she said. “I fell in love with it pretty quickly.”
She joined the dealership in 1993, working in all departments and becoming the Dealer Principal in 2011.
Under her leadership, the full-service dealership has been awarded many years for outstanding customer service satisfaction. They received the Dealer Rater Consumer Satisfaction Award three years in a row, and has been recognized as the Dealer Rater 2017 Chevrolet Dealer of the Year in Michigan.
Focusing on the customer includes a strong online presence, customer-only parking spaces in the front lot, comfortable lounge area with TV and free snacks, and highly trained teams of employees in customer service and vehicle maintenance.
“Make this a place I’d like to shop,” Katie said.
They treat their 130 employees right, building a dedicated team of experienced technicians in the vehicle service department, with an excellent mentorship program to develop new talent.
“Employees can move from part time, oil change work up to technical services. Some of our top technicians in the shop did that,” she said.
“Ideas for improving customer service bubble up from within,” Katie said. “Delivering the best possible customer experience is our top priority at Bowman Chevrolet – the team is committed to this during every customer interaction. The dealership’s success is directly attributed to our hardworking employees and the support we receive from our loyal customers in the Clarkston community and throughout Oakland County.”
Bowman Auto Group is expanding this year by nearly two acres, after purchasing two properties next door.
New-car sales at Bowman Chevrolet have tripled since 2011, and the dealership has been among the fastest-growing Chevrolet dealers in Michigan the past seven years. In 2016 they sold 2,800 new vehicles.
John Bowman’s support of the community continues, with employees helping out with Easter Seals, SCAMP, Clarkston Area Youth Assistance, My Habitat Clarkston, and other charity, school, and civic groups.
“Community involvement was really important to him. Intense involvement in the community, not just writing checks,” Katie said. “Community service is one of the main reasons we have been able to grow and expand this business. It’s an honor to support the Clarkston area.”
“Our top 60 dealers this year have gone above and beyond to build lasting relationships with their customers by providing the best possible total ownership experience. We sincerely appreciate and applaud their efforts,” said Brian Sweeney, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet. “Chevrolet dealers play a pivotal role in the brand’s overall success and their commitment to delivering exceptional service is among the best in the industry.”
Bowman Chevrolet serves Clarkston, Waterford, Lake Orion and Chevrolet customers from other parts of Oakland County in the eastern part of the state.
For more information, visit www.bowmanchevrolet.com.