Competition between auto dealerships in the Detroit, Michigan market is off the charts.
Eric Frehsée, General Sales Manager at Tamaroff Motors, Inc., can look out his dealership’s window and see the neighboring dealership selling a lease on a fully loaded Jeep for $200 a month; the Hondas and Nissans Tamaroff sells are not even priced in that playing field.
So, Frehsée knew he and his dealership would have to work harder to capture their market share and more. Strategic thinking and planning have played a huge role in helping to make customers believe in the brand, but it’s not an easy market. Detroit is the only market where Cadillac, Buick and Lincoln outsell Honda, Toyota and Nissan. This is a huge challenge for Tamaroff Motors.
Over the years, Tamaroff Motors has had their fair share of challenges. The group is a family-owned business that was started by Marvin Tamaroff in 1969. In his time, he has sold every type of vehicle — from Buick to Rolls Royce. A true automotive pioneer, the 90-year-old Tamaroff still comes to the dealerships weekly to check in, ask questions and offer advice. He has an eye for the business and his passion has continued down the family tree. Marvin’s son, Jeffrey Tamaroff, is now leading the dealerships, along with his son, Jason Tamaroff and nephew, Eric Frehsée.
The dealership has seen a lot of changes and a lot of growth over the years. They have exceeded the competition in sales and most recently were named “The No. 1 Honda dealer in the State of Michigan.” The group has two campuses. The first campus, Tamaroff Motors Inc., has more than 22 acres that includes a Honda store, Nissan store, an indoor storage building, a leasing company, a photo studio, a body and collision shop, detail department and a shared service department. Tamaroff’s other location, the Jeffrey Campus, is 20 miles east and includes a Honda store, an Acura store, a Kia store and a Nissan store with a service department and parts and body shop for each. It also includes a photo studio.
“The only thing constant in the business is change,” said Eric Frehsée, which is the mantra that helped develop the dealerships into what they are today. To survive the downturn and then take advantage of the rising market, many changes had to be implemented — and everyone had to be on board.
It started with the dealership’s website. If you look at www.tamaroffhonda.com, you will find one of the most informative websites in the business. It took Eric and his team nine months to blueprint and execute this site. He wanted an online place customers could visit and get all the information they wanted — including price — so that when they were ready to purchase the vehicle, there would be no frustrations and all their frequently asked questions would be answered. This not only made for a happy customer, but it also provided his team with a new sales tool. They are able to guide the customer through the site in person or over the phone, all the while building their authority and value in the eyes of the consumer. This has been invaluable to the team.
Once the website was complete, next came the strategic digital marketing plan. Tamaroff partnered with Team Velocity to target not just a large audience, but the right audience and send them the correct message to bring them to the store. This directed marketing is crucial because of the tight group of dealerships in a limited geographical space in Detroit. Being able to contact the perfect buyer in such a market may sound simple, but finding the right formula is difficult and finding a company specializing in this will save not only time, but money, as well.
Another challenge that targeted marketing campaigns were able to overcome was to bring in lost customers. The Tamaroff Group had an array of customers in their database who, for whatever reason, had not been communicated with in a timely manner or were simply lost in transition. With the strategic campaigns and the right messages, Tamaroff was able to bring those lost customers back to the store and regain them as long-term clients.
A complete marketing strategy also must deal with the service department. Tamaroff had many customers who were loyal to getting their service completed at the dealership but had never purchased a car from them. Team Velocity was able to set up a program to help turn those customers into repeat service customers, and Tamaroff car buyers, as well.
“Having a partner as driven and cutting-edge as Tamaroff Honda continues to make our products and processes stronger,” said Justin Byrd, President of Team Velocity Marketing. “We continuously strive to be the perfect partner and deliver optimal results for the Tamaroff organization.”
The final piece of the puzzle was to get everyone on board. Team culture and support can make or break a company, especially when changing the processes and marketing within a company. Tamaroff has many seasoned team members who have been with the company for a long time, which says as much about Tamaroff as it does their loyalty. Thanks to the leadership skills that the dealership has honed over the past five decades, Tamaroff Motors has found methods to keep the team positive and ready to grow — even during challenging times. In some dealerships, team members who have been with a company for a long time get set in their ways and become unwilling to change or try new ideas. By valuing flexibility in the face of new technology and ideas, Tamaroff not only became the No. 1 Honda dealer in the state of Michigan, but also the No. 1 Nissan dealer in the Detroit market.
“Our goal is to be the No. 1 import dealer in the state,” Frehsée said. Thanks to smarter, more directed marketing and outstanding customer service, achieving that goal is well within Tamaroff’s abilities.