- Lexus now requires its dealers to have a technology specialist on staff, offering the selected employees a training program with instructor-led and online classes.
- At Hoffman Lexus of East Hartford, Connecticut, Derek Sulliman, a 14-year employee, was chosen and handles everything from special in-dealership technology events to individual Homelink house calls.
- Technology specialists are available to answer questions customers may have before, during, and after the sale.
EAST HARTFORD, Connecticut — Derek Sulliman of Hoffman Lexus is the person Lexus buyers want to see. That's because he's a Certified Technology Specialist, the person who has had advanced training to help clients figure out how to use their phones, their audio systems, and the other complex technology on a modern Lexus product.
With 20 years of experience as a mechanic, working his way up to diagnostic and quality control specialist in his 14-year career at Hoffman Lexus, Sulliman told Edmunds that, even before he became one of two technology specialists at the dealership, he was already "interacting with owners, driving with them, pairing their phones, answering questions."
This technology emphasis makes sense in a time when the vast majority of cars now have navigation and Bluetooth on board. At his dealership, Sulliman said only about 10 percent of their new vehicles either don't have or their buyers don't use these features.
He especially appreciates the opportunity to teach older owners how to use new features such as the Pandora and I Heart Radio apps, which he calls a "pleasure" to introduce to people who may have been driving back when simply having a radio in the car was a luxury.
"They can create their favorite stations, and it's like magic. Everyone now just expects it," he said, but "someone older really appreciates the luxury of that."
Another favorite story concerns a busy customer who was successfully taught how to use Lexus's eDestination feature.
"His assistant will send him his daily stops from the office to the car," Sulliman said. "He starts the car, opens up the Monday folder, and his destinations are listed. He travels by navigation from one to the next."
Hoffman Lexus will send Sulliman to people's homes to help them program their HomeLink technology with their home's garage door opener. But mainly, he helps people learn how to run complicated features such as the Enform App Suite, which includes Bing, Open Table, Pandora, and I Heart Radio.
"You have to sign up and download the app to your phone and have it running in the background," he said, making it the hardest feature for people to figure out.
But then there are the easier wins: "I never get tired of showing people how to turn on the notification function so text messages come through and the car reads them to you," he said.
"Everyone loves that."
Hoffman Lexus runs regular Technology Events in a tent at the dealership, and Sulliman gets to teach those skills to a group of owners.
On September 10, the dealer saw 95 people and 55 vehicles participate. The next event is scheduled for November 12. The dealer provides "great" food, training, and the opportunity to meet the managers and staff of sales, service, parts, and the body shop, Sulliman said.
Sulliman said he views his job as being like a "personal trainer to you and your vehicle."
Hoffman Lexus is part of the Hoffman Auto Group, which was founded in 1921 and sells nine brands at locations in three Connecticut cities.
Edmunds says: Who couldn't use a personal trainer to help them make the most of all the great new technology on modern cars?