Soell Puts the "Courtesy" in Courtesy Delivery
Ninety-year-old Fleet Manager Robert (“Bob”) Soell of Suntrup Ford City, Inc., a dealership in St. Louis, Mo., wants to be known as a “good guy” by his courtesy-delivery customers. Numerous letters and gifts from grateful clients testify that he has gotten his wish.
Outside checking in vehicles and servicing them, Soell performs every step of the courtesy-delivery process personally. He:
- Receives the purchase order accompanied by a draft that acts as a delivery receipt and completes the draft.
- Serves as the point of contact with the driver.
- Arranges with an auction to pick up a trade-in.
As a bonus, Soell uses a consumer guide created by his son, John Soell, to provide drivers useful information about their vehicles.
No Task Too Small
No task is too small for his attention. For example, he installs the license plates himself. He tries to make sure that customers don’t forget their garage-door openers, and he helps them to move items from their old vehicles to their new ones.
- From 1989 to 1999, working for Kribs Ford City in St. Louis, Soell delivered 11,815 new cars and trucks, of which 1,212 were out of stock. In addition, he disposed of more than 8,000 used cars. In October 2000, Suntrup Ford bought Kribs Ford City. From October 2000 to this past June, Soell delivered 1,864 new cars and trucks. His dealership has a retail sales volume of 100-150 vehicles per month.
- Career Includes Sports Promotion
- Soell has performed courtesy deliveries for 22 years. Previously, he sold vehicles to national companies full-time for 35 years. (He still sells vehicles to national companies on an emergency basis.) He made the change when national companies stopped buying vehicles and began leasing them in the 1980s.
- Still earlier, he promoted the St. Louis Blues basketball team, with the hope of establishing a basketball franchise in the St. Louis area. The Blues competed against the likes of the Harlem Globetrotters, the Boston Celtics, and the Fort Wayne Pistons (now the Detroit Pistons).
- Soell says that knowing that he’s “top dog” in his field keeps him going. He adds that he has no plans to retire. A charter member of the Automotive Fleet and Leasing Association (AFLA), Soell still attends meetings whenever his courtesy-delivery schedule allows.