Christian Robinson, Internet Department Director, Subaru of Las Vegas
January 2015 Autobytel Dealer of the Month
We'd like to congratulate Christian Robinson, Internet Department Director of Subaru Las Vegas, for being named Autobytel's Dealer of the Month for January 2015.
The Autobytel Dealer Awards Program honors exceptional dealers from a competitive field of thousands of automotive retailers who employ the highest standards in customer service, Internet automotive retail sales and lead management processes, and mobile and emerging technologies.
We recently spoke with Christian about the importance of innovation, process, and follow-up, and how these factors have played a critical role in driving his store's success.
Tell us about yourself and your store. What is your official title, what brands do you sell and what are your primary markets?
My name is Christian Robinson and I am the Internet Department Director of Subaru Las Vegas. We sell new model Subarus, as well as a range of pre-owned vehicles of different makes. We serve Las Vegas, but we are the only Subaru store around for 100 miles so we have many customers who come from Arizona, Utah, and California. Our customers come to us for our large inventory and to experience our quality sales practices. We have a high number of customers who come in looking for our Subaru performance models including the WRX STI and the BRZ. We also have customers looking for other Subaru models including outdoor vehicles and our family / commuter models.
How long have you been an Autobytel dealer and what do you think are the primary benefits of being on the Autobytel program?
We have been with the program most recently for a couple of years, since recent changes have been implemented to the program. The benefits we see from the Autobytel program is that the leads yield serious buyers, and that our close rates have been pretty high.
What do you think makes you so successful at meeting the needs of today's Internet consumers? Please share a few of your best practices in terms of managing Internet leads.
The reason I think we are so successful is because of our overall store philosophy and our pricing strategies. We have a brand that we all believe in, and the Subaru vehicle quality and value is through the roof, which makes it easy for customers to add our brand to their garage.
What are your thoughts about being named an Autobytel Dealer of the Month?
We are just a small store in Las Vegas selling Subarus, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that we did so well with the Autobytel program.
What are some tips or advice you would give other retailers when it comes to effectively managing Internet customers?
Simply put, you have to have a good process in place combined with good staff, and follow-up is key!
What are your general thoughts about the auto industry right now? How are sales? Any interesting things happening at Subaru of Las Vegas or with the brand that you'd like to share?
Overall, I think the industry seems to be coming back and going strong. Subaru in general has had steady growth that outpaces the industry as whole. The recent Subaru model refreshes are exciting, and have helped us in terms of sales. For our store, we are trying something new. We currently have non-commissioned salespeople working with us to provide an Apple Store®-like approach. They answer customer's questions about the cars, they do test drives, then when the customer is ready, we bring in our own version of a Genius Bar® to take the transaction further and complete the sale. So far, this approach has been well received. Our customers have had positive feedback on the one price, no pressure approach.
What are your thoughts on the new / emerging technologies coming out of Autobytel? For instance, receiving leads via text and texting with customers? Web based chat?
We are already using a chat product on our website. The Autobytel texting product seems interesting, but it's just a matter of implementing technology and process on our end before we think about experimenting with or using the text product.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself...what do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies or interests of note?
I'm a runner! I run marathons, and ultramarathons. This weekend, I will be doing the second half of 100 mile race. And, any day now, I will find out if I made the NYC marathon.
Each month, Autobytel's sales and dealer operations teams evaluate prospective candidates from a competitive field of thousands of automotive retailers in the Autobytel network, with a monthly finalist selected based on key online automotive best practices, including conversion rates, lead management processes, customer service principles, customer and brand retention analytics and Internet department practices, among others.