Russ Humberston strives to stay one step ahead of the wave he’s convinced is coming fast.
“We don’t know when or how the big boys are going to get into the market -- like the Amazons, the Apples -- but they are going to get in,” Humberston, co-owner of Beaverton (Oregon) Toyota, told Mega Dealer News. “You can get your maintenance taken care of, just click Amazon Prime and it’s there. It’s such low-hanging fruit, I’m surprised they haven’t already done it.”
That’s not to say Humberston and his crew are conceding anything, rather simply preparing themselves for a changing industry.
“We are trying to prepare for the shrinking margins,” he said. “I think if you’re running a dealership in a typical fashion in five years when things really start to take effect, that’s going to be extremely difficult.”
Humberston said part of what Beaverton Toyota is already doing is adapting what products they offer and figuring out how they can make doing business with them differ from anything Amazon could ever come up with.
“We’ll come up with many good reasons and not so good reasons for the guest to stay with us,” he said. “There is a price to pay for everything. I know some dealers that mark up their price maybe $2,000, in my humble opinion that ain’t going to be able to happen.”
Presently, the Beaverton Toyota staff of 245 sells roughly 6,000 new and used vehicles per year, priding themselves on a brand promise of being “committed to a long-term partnership with our guests and community.”
Over the last five decades, the dealership has serviced over one million Toyotas.
“As a family-owned business, we are proud to play an active role in our community,” the company said on its website. “From community event sponsorships to worthy causes to taking stewardship of our immediate environment, we see a necessity as an organization to play a positive role in the community beyond the core functions of our business.”