From humble beginnings in a snowstorm in 1969 to its 50th anniversary in January, the Neil Huffman Auto Group’s business formula has left a legacy on Dixie Highway in Louisville, KY, adapting to the ever-changing automotive industry with the customer in mind.
What began as a small Volkswagen dealership with 16 employees has evolved to include Acura, Buick, Chevy, GMC, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Subaru dealerships, strategically located throughout the Louisville, KY, Frankfort, KY, and southern Indiana areas to meet the needs of their customers.
The family-based dealership continues to grow, holding true to their mission “to provide the most enjoyable car-buying experience in the region,” and that experience begins in the service department.
Dave Grover, fixed operations director of the Neil Huffman Auto Group, oversees the day-to-day activities of 10 franchise service and parts departments within the group.
“Our Dixie Highway campus has three dealerships under two rooftops: Neil Huffman Mazda and Neil Huffman Volkswagen share one roof; Neil Huffman Subaru is next door,” Grover explained. “Between both rooftops, we currently have four service advisors, one express advisor, 10 main shop technicians and two express technicians working out of 18 total bays.”
With a dealership group as expansive as Neil Huffman Auto Group, challenges are present. Faced with a large amount of turnover within the last five to seven years, Grover noted that the Neil Huffman Auto Group is no stranger to the struggle to recruit and hire qualified technicians and has taken a different approach to bring in new employees.
“We find young talented individuals from local colleges and automotive programs and train them ourselves,” Grover said. “The best place to find a technician is grow them yourself. We try to promote from within. We will usually hire a new technician into our express area to get them used to our processes and expectations. Once we can get them trained, we will move them into the main shop and continue the training process. Once we move someone from our express area to the main shop, we will bring in another express technician and start the process over.”
The Neil Huffman Auto Group also works with a local technical college to build a relationship between staff and students so they are prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation.
“We currently partner with Jefferson Community & Technical College’s automotive division. We have several of their students intern with us, and we have picked up multiple technicians once they get their degree. Southern High School in Louisville also has an automotive program that we are involved in. A lot of their students go through the JCTC program to get their automotive degree.
“Over the last year, we have rebuilt our service department with quality and reliable staff from the top down. We have built a team that we can grow with in the years to come. We’ve got a lot of young talent that is eager to take care of our customers and expand our business footprint.”
Improving the service department doesn’t stop at hiring the right people. The tools and equipment are equally as important.
“In the last two years, we have made several improvements to help us grow our business,” Grover said. “We purchased a new alignment machine, tire machine and brake lathes to make us more efficient in performing our maintenance and repairs that vehicles need.
“We also purchased two iPads so advisors and technicians can take photos and videos of needed maintenance and repairs on their vehicle. Instead of the customer taking the advisor’s word for the recommended repairs, we have a photo or video to show them on anything that we are recommending. We are in the process of purchasing three more diagnostic laptops to help us diagnose vehicles in a quicker and more efficient way.”
In the end, the Neil Huffman Auto Group is only as good as the staff they have in their stores who are there to provide the best customer service.
“We work very hard to recruit and train staff members who want this as a career instead of a job. We try to hire individuals who want to grow in our business,” Grover said. “Our staff goes through very intense product training to ensure that they are knowledgeable when dealing with any situation that is presented to them. We also have very specific processes for staff members to follow, from time of arrival until the customer leaves the store, that ensure our customers receive a top-notch experience.”
For more information on the Neil Huffman Auto Group, visit neilhuffman.com.