The Unobvious Ones is a monthly look at movers and shakers who fly below the radar in the Canadian auto industry.
WORKING WITH DEALERS TO TAILOR PROGRAMS TO CANADA
Looking after customers isn’t just about the sale. There’s also aftersales, warranty and technical support. At BMW Group Canada’s head office in Richmond Hill, Ont., Tracy Bulmer oversees a team of 55 people in her role as director of customer support.
“It’s an interesting area of business, and sometimes people underestimate it because there are many different aspects,” he said. “We work with our partners in Germany in some business directions but also with our retail network to make sure our programs are fit for Canada.
“We have a lot of interaction with dealers, trying to get a frontline view, right down to the service adviser level.”
Customer support is the largest department in the company, and Bulmer, 48, is the first woman to hold the position of director, customer support at BMW Group Canada. She recently became the chair of a women’s network in BMW Canada, which is intended to mentor and encourage women to advance within the company.
After earning a degree in psychology, Bulmer joined Kawasaki when it advertised for a bilingual marketing coordinator.
“It was a small team, and I wore a lot of different hats.”
Three years later, in 2002, she moved to BMW, in accessories and lifestyle. That evolved into marketing manager of after sales.
“I had a mentor who said, ‘You should get some operational experience,’ and I went into parts logistics. It was a completely different viewpoint, and I hadn’t appreciated what the change could have done.”
She took her current position in 2018.
“I have a strong relationship with the retail network, and we’ve built up trust and dialogue. We’re approaching electrification, and we’re well-positioned with what our retailers need to know to service customers.”
ON THE GROUND FLOOR FOR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Genesis Motors Canada has distributors instead of dealerships, but customer satisfaction is still critical.
Working out of the brand’s Eastern Canada zone office in Brossard, Que., Regional Operations Manager Greg Holmes is the liaison between head office and Genesis’ eight distributors in Quebec and the Maritimes.
“I contact each one almost every day,” he said. “I make sure our vehicles are coming in and going to the right people, [provide] training support and focus on the guest experience. Alotofitis data mining, checking the responses we’re getting from guests and keeping a close eye on how they are treated.
“It’s an evolution of the district service manager but encompasses so much more.”
Holmes, 49, is from Toronto but finished high school in Taiwan when his parents moved there for work. That sparked an interest in international business, which he studied after returning to Canada. He was equally intrigued with the hospitality industry and managed a restaurant in Vancouver.
In 2000, he moved to Montreal and became a showroom host at a BMW dealership, blending his hospitality background with his interest in cars. After working with Volkswagen and Audi, first in sales and then as a warranty field manager, he became an auditor for Bentley’s dealerships worldwide.
“It was fun but too much travel for the family,” he said. Holmes joined Genesis in his current role in 2021. Genesis began with online sales and at-home service, but two of the eight distributors in Holmes’ region are now brick-and-mortar, and the rest will begin construction by the end of the year.
“It’s challenging to be on the ground floor but so rewarding,” Holmes said. “It’s a new way of doing business [that’s] more hospitality-involved. We’re learning what works and what doesn’t, and we have to adjust and go forward.”