Harper Auto Square


Creating Lifelong Customers

Shannon Harper and his team at Harper Auto Square take joy in matching the right customer with the right vehicle. They also find satisfaction in the simplest of interactions—like a minor adjustment that makes it possible for a couple to reunite with their U.S. Marine son just before he is deployed to the Middle East.

That exact scenario unfolded recently and prompted a letter from the military father, along with a link to a video of a tearful embrace between mother and son.

Curt and Julie Swayne were en route from their home in Texas to Virginia, where they would see their 19-year-old son for the first time since he had left for Basic Training 10 months earlier, and just before he was to be deployed to battle.

After the Check Engine Light came on, they found Harper Auto Square online and arranged to stop in for service. The technicians diagnosed the issue, reset the O2 sensor, and got the Swaynes back on their way to Virginia.

“This wasn’t just great customer service. This was customer CARE,” Curt Swayne wrote to the dealership, noting the “kindness, professionalism and willingness to provide us with confidence to get to see our son this weekend. It will be most likely a year or possibly two before we get another chance. This wasn’t about business. It was about helping us experience the full-hearted joy of reuniting with our boy.”

That heartfelt letter “embodies the value we place on taking care of people, treating them like family,” Shannon Harper says. “We get reviews like that all the time, and it’s because of our team. If your brother or sister or dad or mom needed help, how would you treat them? That’s how we approach every customer.”

For Harper—the president who grew up learning the ropes from his father, Tom, as he washed cars, stocked parts, and worked his way up—customer satisfaction begins with employee satisfaction. “We are intentional about the principle that happy team members lead to a happy customer experience,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what we’re selling—new or used, high end or lower end, a vehicle or service. Everybody, every employee and every customer, wants to be treated like family.”

This auto family was founded in 1981 by Tom Harper, who opened Porsche, Audi and Jaguar dealerships. Over the years the company has expanded to seven dealerships, thirteen franchises, a certified collision center, and Knoxville’s first premium flex-service car wash.

Central to its success is a foundational commitment to excellence and service that is baked into the culture. The company’s stated Core Purpose is to “Create Lifelong Customers.” New team members are reminded to “treat this place like it’s your home and treat the customers and your coworkers like they are your family. If you do this it will change the perception, build trust, and will create customers for life.”

As Shannon Harper and his team continue to work hard to grow the business and expand into new areas of sales and service, they endeavor to keep the heart of its original mission in the driver’s seat.

“The legacy that my dad laid out there,” Shannon says, “is that we can’t guarantee you’ll like the cars we sell better than anything else on the market, but we guarantee that your customer experience will be better than anybody else’s in town.” 

Knoxville, Tennessee
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