Innovator Russ Humberston joined a panel discussion on “The Modern Dealership” at the 2018 National Automobile Dealer’s Association Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Humberston, of Russ Auto Group in Beaverton, Oregon, joined Motorcars Honda’s Trevor Gile and NADA's Jared Allen, the host of the discussion, to talk about ways embracing technology has impacted their operations.
“We developed our own software four years ago because we wanted to make it as simple as possible for the guests online,” Humberston said.
The idea was to allow car buyers to complete the entire dealership transaction digitally -- paperwork included. Russ Auto Group also wanted to move along with the culture aspect of the dealership experience and to figure out what potential customers really needed.
“It’s also more about what are the needs of our coworkers and how to inspire them,” Humberston said.
The company initially went through what Humberston describes as a six-month “J curve.”
“But it’s been overall positive whether it’s increase in value, gross, retention…slowly we’ve gone from spending $150,000 a month in advertising budget down to $35,000,” he said. “So we keep that money and allot a good portion of that just into the guest experience.”
The company saves money while investing in cultural initiatives and workshops for coworkers. Those initiatives then drive more buyer involvement, including among Millennials.
“Millennials are tough and they love to be a part of something and they don’t like confrontation,” Humberston said. “Just make it easy for them.”
The innovator pointed out that the dealership has gone from just “selling things” to actually engaging with the customers.
“The bottom line is that you have to work a lot harder on the culture aspect, but there’s a lot more money on the bottom of it,” he said.
Humberston advises other dealers who are trying to become more modern in their operations that it’s not really about being first. Instead, what matters is what you believe in, what you want your people to believe in and what you want your customers to experience.