Pacific BMW: Staying Ahead of the Curve For 40 Years
Pacific BMW recently celebrated 40 years in Southern California and its success as a family-owned-and-operated business. During those years, Dealer Principal David Ho has held franchises with several other brands but has always thought of BMW as the vehicle of the future and so today, Pacific BMW remains his family’s sole focus. David attributes his years of success in the industry to three main tenants he and his daughters, Jennifer, Danielle & Natasha who all support the dealership in various operation and management roles, have adopted: identify ways to be innovative, treat your team and your customers like family and be transparent in everything you do. The Dealer Direct team sat down with Director of Administration Alicia Cruz to learn more about David’s approach. DD: What have been the keys to the dealership’s success during the past 40 years? AC: David has always been ahead of the curve - we actually joke if he has a crystal ball because his knowledge of the business and ability to correctly predict where the industry will go has always steered us in the right direction and empowered us to thrive as a dealership. His foresight, intuition and willingness to adopt new technologies and practices have been especially helpful during the challenging times we’ve all experienced during the past 18 months. The other side of his approach is his “family-first” mentality that isn’t just reserved for employees but extends to our customers and the community. We have something called the “Hello Initiative” which requires every team member, no matter their role, to always be approachable and greet our customers. We also do everything we can to operate a transparent business and our primary focus is getting the customer what they want and in the most efficient way. For example, we moved to digital payments about five years ago, removed the cashiers and have the service advisors complete the customer transactions to expedite the process and enable customers to stay comfortably seated throughout the entire process. DD: How else has David’s innovative spirit elevated the dealership? AC: One of the biggest and most innovative changes he made was to our internal organization. Up until 2014, we had a typical dealership management structure spearheaded by a general manager, but David saw an opportunity and changed the entire structure to help push us forward. Moving away from the traditional roles and reporting, David created three separate, yet equal directors to spearhead sales, administration and aftersales. Because these divisions can become siloed, creating a team of directors who have an equal voice in running the dealership the way they see it has created an environment of seamless collaboration across the business. In 2020, David added another new director to this model specifically focused on sales and finance. DD: What best practices are you leveraging from a sales and service standpoint to help drive the business? AC: David has always espoused that it is important to anticipate and stay ahead of the trends, which is why we’ve consistently served as a pilot location for many of BMW’s programs, including technician video, digital retailing, pickup and drop-off services and more. In addition to adopting the latest technologies, David also realized that integrating additional services into our offerings would help position us as a one-stop shop for our customers and increase loyalty. David used to own a body shop and keenly understood the impact it could make for customers as well as our pre-owned and off-lease sales, so in 2015 we added our own body shop located across the street from the dealership. It has been driving consistent business and we’ve received an immense amount of positive customer feedback – just another example of something David saw that we didn’t know we needed. DD: Being located in Southern California, are you capitalizing on the BMW Performance Center West in Thermal? AC: While we leverage Performance Center West from a customer perspective as often as possible, we also use it as an opportunity to show our appreciation for our employees while providing them with a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the BMWs they sell and service. A lot of people understand the value of the facility from a customer perspective, but there is so much employees can learn there, and our approach underscores just how much David cares about them and his desire for them to grow with the brand. DD: How is the dealership preparing for the increasing focus on electrification and how are you driving momentum for the iX and i4? AC: Southern California has always been a hotbed for electric vehicles, so we are all in! David truly believes in these models – especially the iX. To garner excitement, get everyone educated and comfortable and prepared for pre-orders, we held a dedicated training event at the dealership for our employees. We also encouraged our client advisors to meet their customers at [SPACE] by BMW in Los Angeles so they could experience the vehicles in person, together. We’re so excited for the future of BMW and these new vehicles and have been taking the necessary steps to have the proper infrastructure and training in place to support them, amplified by our Tier 3 social media marketing efforts. David has shown us that innovation is the foundation of our success and that is why we’ve been among the top dealerships in terms of iX and i4 pre-orders to date. Pictured above (left to right): Joel Nash, regional vice president, Western Region, BMW NA; David Ho, dealer principal, Pacific BMW; Adam Neumann, area manager, Western Region, BMW NA; Sevak Adamyan, sales director, Pacific BMW.