After Dick Chitty and I visited Carl Sewell, I got to thinking about a written statement that would articulate a vision for Lexus and instill in everyone the idea that they were part of something very important. When I got back to the office, I wrote some thoughts and gave them to my assistant to type. I changed a word here and there and then showed what I had written to the marketing department and Team One Advertising. I called it “The Lexus Covenant.”

 

Team One and marketing made a few small wording changes. The response to the covenant was lukewarm, and the idea was at best tolerated.

 

My idea was to have the covenant signed by all the Lexus associates, dealers, and all their associates. The Lexus Covenant was to be written in stone on a large block of black granite that would be placed in the Lexus Headquarters atrium. It was to be a simple mantra meant to enact a philosophy of treating people with respect, drawing on Carl Sewell’s wisdom of exceeding customer expectations and instilling a lasting vision for the people of Lexus to achieve.

 

The Lexus Covenant

 

Lexus will enter the most competitive,

prestigious automobile race in the world.

Over 50 years of Toyota automotive

experience has culminated in the creation

of Lexus cars. They will be the

finest cars ever built.

Lexus will win the race because:

Lexus will do it right from the start.

Lexus will have the finest dealer network

in the industry. Lexus will treat each

customer as we would a guest in our home.

If you think you can’t, you won’t…

If you think you can, you will.

We can. We will!

 

No one who had anything to do with implementing the covenant, including me, had any idea what was about to happen to Lexus in just a few months. The Lexus Covenant would become important to the survival of Lexus and a force behind its customer service culture.

 

“Above all and before all, do this: Get wisdom! Write this at the top of your list: Get understanding!” Proverbs 4:5-9 (MSG)

 

The first LS400s were coming off the production line at the Tahara plant in May. They would be tested and retested before shipment in July. Some of the LS400s would be sent to Germany to be test driven on the Autobahn by nine of the leading U.S. automotive writers. The opinions of these nine writers about the LS400 would be critical to the failure or success of Lexus in those first months.

 

(To be continued in “Doing the Europeans One Better”)