Employee Profile: Service Manager Anthony Reed | McLarty Daniel CDJRF of Springdale
There are few things more frustrating than car trouble. You go out, keys in hand, expecting your faithful steed to fire right up, but it refuses. Or there’s a weird sound somewhere deep in the guts of the thing. Or there’s a check engine light staring you in the face every time you climb behind the wheel.
Helping drivers find their way out of the four-wheeled purgatory that car trouble can bring is the job of Anthony Reed, the service manager at McLarty Daniel CDJRF in Springdale, who oversees a staff of 10 techs who help customers put car problems in the rearview mirror. Working behind the scenes in service departments for 23 years, Reed has forgotten more about cars than most people will ever know. Still, with automotive technology evolving by leaps and bounds every year, it’s a job that still manages to surprise even him from time to time.
A native of Greenville, Mississippi (“That’s why I talk funny,” he said with a laugh), Reed started out working in the parts room at a small Toyota dealership in Gulfport, Miss. and slowly built his career from there. He and his wife came to Northwest Arkansas from Jackson, Mississippi, 21 years ago. With their first child just born and looking to leave the Magnolia State behind, they ended up in Northwest Arkansas quite literally by chance.
“We literally threw a dart at a map,” he said. “I had heard that Northwest Arkansas was a great place to live, but we’d never been here a day in our lives. We left our jobs in Jackson, Mississippi, and gave them notice with no jobs set up here, no nothing… We both had jobs within two days, a house rented on the third and moved up here the following weekend.” He’s worked in the service center just behind the dealership that recently became McLarty Daniel CDJR of Springdale, since 2013.
Reed’s job as service manager is all about keeping things moving as smoothly and efficiently as possible in the service center. That means constantly working on their processes to make sure customers are getting in and out as quickly as possible and have a great experience while their cars are in the shop. Though the shop at McLarty Daniel CDJRF can work on anything, Reed said, they primarily work on the brands sold on the lot. To keep up with ever-changing tech, Reed said, his technicians are constantly going to classes and training on the latest advances. Eight are “level three” certified, the highest educational achievement with Fiat Chrysler, on top of being ASC certified. Two have college degrees in automotive repair.
“To understand how an engine works is one thing, but to understand how all the electronics communicate with each other is another,” Reed said. “On any of our late model cars, you’ll have 12 to 15 modules that are communicating back to the main computer. Everything is talking back and forth all the time. If one of [the modules] goes down, the whole thing can go haywire, and it can be unrelated to what you’re here for.”
While trying to know everything there is to know about the cars they service is important, Reed believes that just as big a part of success is a true commitment to forming relationships with customers, asking them not only about their car troubles but really taking the opportunity to get to know them as people.
“The thing I stress with my advisors every day is the experience our customers get when they come here: the friendly smile, the greeting when you walk through the door, the Welcome to McLarty Daniel,” he said. “I’ve taught them that, and they’ve seen the effect of it over the years. Just a simple greeting like that, it breaks down the barriers. When people walk into a dealership, they’re not expecting that. When someone says ‘Welcome!’ it kind of breaks down their walls. We’re friendly and they’re friendly. It helps them to open up and talk.”
As a service advisor with Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram products for the past 18 years — Reed is vintage enough that he refers to the brand as a whole as “Mopar” — Reed said he has stuck with the brand because it just puts out a better looking, tougher, more durable product.
“All the manufacturers have their ups and downs on cars and models, but I’ve always felt like we’ve got a really great product,” he said. “We’ve got a great truck. With the Cummins, we have the best diesel on the market by far, with everybody else trying to catch up to ours. The Cummins is the best by far. The 2019 Ram is an awesome truck. Not only is it great looking, but it rides unbelievable. I’ve only got to test drive a couple, but I’ll be in one soon.”
Reed said one big advantage of McLarty Daniel CDJRF of Springdale is that the dealership features a sales lot, service center and body shop all under one roof. If someone buys a car there and later has an accident, he said, they can take it to the McLarty Daniel CDJRF collision center and get it fixed. If their car needs warranty repair, they can take it back to the same people they already trusted enough to purchase from to get it fixed.
“I tell people I sell tires,” Reed said. “They always say: You sell tires? I do it all here. I do everything. It surprises them, because they think of a dealership as only a place to sell cars or have major repairs done. But we want to be your store for all your needs. That’s the whole theory behind having everything here on one lot: no matter what you need, we can do it all. You want to buy a car? We can trade you out. You need it fixed? We can fix it. Need body repair or paint? We can do it. And you’re already dealing with the same people you trusted when you purchased your car.
An avid collector of vintage and modern firearms who enjoys shooting sports, Reed was active in the Boy Scouts for 11 years while kids were younger, teaching climbing and rappelling. He said he likes to hang out beside his pool every night in the summer. He said that while he and others who work at the dealership were understandably nervous when the business was purchased and the name on the sign changed to McLarty Daniel, he and others have been impressed by the changes instituted by owner Russ Daniel, who has kept everything that was working and phased out some things that weren’t.
“I’m not just trying to say things that sound good. They get it,” he said. “They understand what makes a great dealership happen. That’s a relief to work for somebody like Russ, who understands. Most owners and general managers, they’ll know sales, but they usually don’t have clue one about how a service department operates. But Russ gets it. He understands it, and it shows in the efforts he’s made in the last few months and the efforts we’ve made. I appreciate the knowledge he brings.”
Reed said that with a market as saturated with car dealerships as Northwest Arkansas — there’s at least two competing CDJR dealerships within a five-mile radius of McLarty Daniel CDJRF, not to mention lots selling virtually every other major brand — it’s not enough just to sell great Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram and Fiat cars, trucks, vans and SUVs and leave it at that. In order to stay successful, he said, they have to go the extra mile in both the sales and service department, letting customers know every day that they’re more than just a number on a spreadsheet of monthly sales figures.
“What we depend on is giving that great experience to our customers every time,” he said. “We talk about it every day, and we find ways to do it better tomorrow. You can buy a Ram truck anywhere, but that’s the difference… That’s what we try to work on every day out here in the service department: have a relationship with the customer. Talk to them about more than just their car. It’s the simple things that make a service job easier.”