Jackie Parker, Business Development Center (BDC) Manager, Patriot Subaru
June 2014 Autobytel Dealer of the Month
We'd like to congratulate Jackie Parker, BDC Manager of Patriot Subaru for being named Autobytel's Dealer of the Month for June 2014.
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.
We recently spoke with Jackie about Patriot Subaru's commitment to its customers, its families, its communities, and each other, and how this mission has helped the store grow to become the number one Subaru dealer in the state of Maine.
Tell us about yourself and your store. What is your official title, what brands do you sell and what are your primary markets?
I'm Jackie Parker and I'm the BDC Manager for Patriot Subaru in Saco, Maine. Our store has been here for 10 and a half years and we're the largest Subaru dealership in the state. Our mission statement is very simple - we serve our customers, our families, our communities, and each other. Every single employee at Patriot Subaru is empowered to make the right decision and to do the right thing. We are also a completely green dealership. We recycle, reuse, and compost everything, and we won the EPA's Energy Star National Environmental Award. No waste from our dealership goes to landfills, we have an organic vegetable garden available on-site at our store for our customers and our staff, and we offer our customers loaner bicycles. In addition to being an eco-friendly dealer, we are big advocates of giving back to the community. We donate clothes, toys, and food items to people in need and we hold blood drives at our dealership throughout the year. These are just some of the things we do to help our community. When it comes to our market area, we serve customers from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island - as far north as Canada, and as far south as Florida. I just sold a car to a customer in New Jersey. And our dealership offers an exclusive, no strings lifetime warranty on all new cars we sell and many used cars also. The only thing car owners have to do is follow the factory recommended maintenance schedule.
How long have you been an Autobytel dealer and what do you think are the primary benefits of being on the Autobytel program?
I've been with the dealership for seven years, and our store has been part of the Autobytel program for approximately eight to nine years. With Autobytel, service is always consistent. Autobytel comes close to representing 5% - 7% of the cars sold at our dealership through Internet leads. It represents a solid portion of our business. We've had great dealer support from Autobytel when we've needed it, although we haven't needed it often.
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.
Our best practice is to be a human being. Be original, be fresh, be on top of everything, and get back to your customers as soon as possible by phone, email, or video. That's what we do. Even though someone is reaching us from their sofa, using their tablet or their computer, they're just as important as someone standing in our dealership. Our goal is to make sure our customers have all the information they need to make a great choice about their vehicle - for themselves and for their families.
What are your thoughts about being named an Autobytel Dealer of the Month?
We're honored. There a lot of dealerships out there. To be able to reach more people, to talk about what we do here, and for other dealerships to learn about us and to treat their customers, their community, and their staff similarly - is a good thing. We have a great work environment here. For the past three years, were named a Top 100 Best Dealership to Work For by Automotive News (we ranked #5 in 2012 and made the list twice again since then). We were also named a Top Five Best Places to Work by the state of Maine. We placed #4 on that list.
What are some tips or advice you would give other retailers when it comes to effectively managing Internet customers?
Do the right thing. It isn't really a shock when people look upon dealerships in a not-so-great light. Being in the business, we all know people who don't do the right thing all the time. For me personally, I want to feel good about the job I do when I go home at night. You can serve your community, be good to your employees, and still be a viable business. Just do the right thing. When you put people first, everything else falls into place. At our store, we don't do the things we do to get customers, we do it because it's the right thing to do.
What are your general thoughts about the auto industry right now? How are sales? Any interesting things happening at Patriot Subaru or with the brand that you'd like to share?
Subaru is one of the hottest brands in the country right now. Year over year, Subaru has been doing well and it was one of the only OEMs in the black during the recession. We didn't really feel the recession that much. Subaru takes care of its people too. No matter what's going on in the industry, treating your people right is the gateway to good things happening.
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 love spending time with my wife and my daughter, exploring the Maine coastline, going on hikes. My daughter is three-years-old and can hike 1.5 miles right now. I love swimming, spending time with friends and family, and going to the movie theater with my little girl. And I love coming to work every day.
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.