Chris Boyle prides himself on recognizing his customers when he sees them around town.
Well, he usually remembers their cars, at least — if not immediately their names.
“I can walk up to them and say, ‘How’s your [Buick] Lacrosse doing?’” he said. “Then all of a sudden, I pull the name out.”
The 58-year-old recently became principal and president of Boyle Buick GMC in Abingdon, taking the reins of Maryland’s top dealership of new Buicks as the company turns 50.
For Boyle, it was the culmination of more than four decades in the family business. He started working there in the 1970s, washing cars and changing oil.
At age 19, the John Carroll High School graduate was thrust into the role of service manager at the dealership, overseeing employees more than twice his age. He said he was overwhelmed by his initial management role, but came to love what he calls “the game.”
“It’s different every day,” he said. “It’s the game of trying to see how many cars you can service and sell, how well you can take care of your customers.”
Boyle’s father founded the dealership in 1968, and Boyle and his brother, who retired in December, bought it from him in 1994, he said. It now has 73 full-time employees, including five GM technicians.
The internet and a wave of new, high-tech cars have changed the dealership model. But Boyle isn’t one to cling to the past. He prefers the “sleek,” newer models to “old muscle cars,” he said.
“Just the sleekness and what these things can do is cool to me,” he said. “We used to tune up cars, and now you download a software program.”
The internet has made it easier than ever to compare vehicles and prices — the dealership’s biggest challenge, he said — but a customer-service focus has remained a staple of the dealership.
He does his best to shake hands with everyone who buys a car there. Business fluctuates month-to-month, with the highest demand in the spring, but on a busy day, Boyle might deal with 50 or more customers, he said.
“Our whole life has been customer service,” Boyle said.
The Bel Air resident golfs, camps and travels for leisure. He and his wife of 40 years, Cindy, raised four children, some of whom work at the dealership. They have five grandchildren and are expecting two more.
The Boyles are invested in the Harford County area and sponsors golf tournaments, recreational sports and other community events. He says it’s one reason many customers stay “Boyle Loyal,” the dealership’s slogan.
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“We have people buying five, six, seven, eight cars from us,” Boyle said.