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From “Bida” to DOYA

From “Bida” to DOYA

Ronald Rey M. de los Reyes

Jojo Ponce who leads 2024 Hyundai Dealer of the Year Awardee, Hyundai Bacolod, laid his foundation for customer service excellence more than 30 years ago, not as a car businessman, but as a fast-food employee

Geoffery “Jojo” Ponce started his long illustrious career of selling cars 30 years ago. Under various banners, he has been diligently making his mark in that corner of the archipelago in Negros. And just recently, his 21 years of hard work and excellence, particularly for his Hyundai brand, paid off when Hyundai Motor Philippines, Inc. crowned his Bacolod dealership this year’s coveted Dealer of the Year Award (DOTY) plum out of the 33 total dealerships nationwide.

“After all these years of waiting, finally, we were able to get recognized and achieve the most-coveted award among Hyundai dealers here in the country,” an elated Ponce said during an exclusive interview with Inquirer Motoring.

“We’re very happy with the recognition. We’ve been working so hard,” he added.

Ponce even stressed that his company’s core values have been centered on the principles of customer service excellence all these years.

“That’s what our dealership stands for. It’s where we thrive,” continued the veteran car entrepreneur.

Surprising revelation

Despite being in the car industry for about three decades, the 59-year-old businessman, however, revealed that his savvy for customer service did not start with the sheet metal.

“But you know what,” he seemingly intentionally hung his succeeding words for added suspense.

“I did not learn the basics of customer service in the car industry,” he divulged.

“In fact, I learned this when I was managing director of our Jollibee fast-food chain here in Bacolod.”

He furthered, “I just continued applying in the automotive world what I have learned there.”

The fast-food chain, along with a chain of gasoline stations and appliance centers within Bacolod, are owned and operated by his family.

The fast-food chain, known for its current tagline: “Bida ang Saya” specifically highlights in its advertisements family values and traditions in the country and how the restaurant is a place where families can bond over delicious food.

Worldwide, being the biggest fast-food chain in the country, Jollibee has about 2,000 branches, which spans from Europe all the way to Asia and the Middle East.

Particularly, it values providing “high-quality food, fast and friendly service in a clean and comfortable environment tailored to the Filipino palate.”

“Nowadays, I apply this specific principle in my car business, particularly here in Hyundai,” Ponce said.

Manpower behind Hyundai Bacolod

Jojo Ponce and his wife

World-class stringent DOTY process

Ponce also divulged that the process for getting the nod of the judges in winning this top accolade was no easy feat.

“It’s one of the strictest, if not the strictest we have ever encountered,” he said.

According to him, the process would take an average of three months, which involves the moment the potential customers enter the showroom to the service bays and financing department. It’s an all-around procedure.

“Sometimes, what they would do is ‘mystery shopping,’ wherein they would pretend to be the actual customer. They do walk-ins and phone-in calls to gauge how efficient our services really are.”

He also said that their headquarters in Korea was likewise involved in the process.

“After being audited here, they would then forward it there abroad,” he shared.

Not about the volumes

Unlike other brands wherein most of the criteria for judging involve their monthly and yearly overall sales, in Hyundai, it’s the overall customer experience and satisfaction.

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“This gives us an equal playing field. It gives us a chance against big city dealers in Metro Manila or in Cebu,” he said.

Aside from their full 3S (sales, service and spare parts) world-class facility, seated on a cumulative 2,000-sqm space, which features a 10-car showroom and a number of service bays, the overall service plays a huge factor.

He also divulged that their market in Bacolod is relatively small compared to other bigger city dealerships.

“We only sell about 30 units per month.”

Good thing, however, despite their size, they have one of the best, if not the best services available locally.

Local touch

Their operations, Ponce explained further, is “very much local,” meaning his family has been in business for about 60 years in Bacolod with their diverse fields of industries.

“We know the people here. We know the local flavor,” he said.

“This is our advantage compared to other entrepreneurs who are from other places and just go here to set up a business.”

“Plus, I’m very much hands on,” he elated.

Thus, for Ponce, just like managing his fast-food franchise before, he makes sure that the happiness of his customer truly is the “star.”