Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S7

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT LONG-TERM OUTLOOK PAVES WAY At Robberson Ford Lincoln Mazda, doing it right starts with the employees. "We try to be employee-driven," says owner Jeff Robberson, a nominee for Time Dealer of the Year. Robberson is a second-generation owner and says his commitment to do right by his employees stems from how hard his dad worked getting the dealership started and successful. "My dad had 10 employees when he started. When I was young, he couldn't come to my concerts and football games because he was 'it' at the dealership-he was working so hard," Robberson says. Today Robberson encourages his 128 employees to take time to attend family events. "It's not a case of employees asking, 'May I go to my kid's soccer game?' We tell them, 'You will go to your kids' events,'" he says. "It's an important part of who we are. If someone needs to go to an event, employees cover for each other." Similarly, when making important decisions, "We ask three questions: First, how does it affect the employees; then, how does it affect the customers; and then, lastly, how does it affect our profitability," Robberson says. "You need to take that long-term look at things. For instance, taking care of a customer's problem may be painful to the bottom line. It may hurt in the short term, but it will help the dealership in the long term." Robberson never intended to follow in the footsteps of his dad, a World War II veteran who became a sales rep for Ford, and eventually became the Ford dealer in Bend, Ore. "I worked for my dad when I was young, but the minute I could get a job I went to work in construction," Robberson says. Robberson put himself through college. He was 34 and vice president of a trucking company in the Seattle area, when his dad asked him about rejoining the family business. Robberson returned to Bend, where he now owns both the Ford Lincoln Mazda dealership and a satellite location in nearby Prineville. Robberson prides himself on the dealership's charitable efforts, including local Robberson staff Jeff Robberson United Way fundraising and a variety of events supporting local organizations. "We have a long list of events that we support, and we try to leverage our media dollars to bring even more to the table for these events," he says. For instance, Robberson recently was the title sponsor for Tour des Chutes, an annual bike ride/run to support cancer care programs and mentioned the event in its advertising to boost awareness. "You have to realize that if you are going to support a nonprofit, you aren't doing it to sell cars," Robberson says. "It's not adver- tising. If that's the reason you're sponsoring something, it's the wrong reason." Being part of a smaller community of about 81,000 also means a focus on customer service. "I think customer service is more important than ever in our business," Robberson says. "We like to shop where we're known, and we want to create that same atmosphere here-that we know you, and we're here to take care of you. I want our employees to walk into any place in town and be proud to have their Robberson shirt on." Customer service means empathy. Robberson says his dad taught him that the dealership should take care of customers' needs no matter what the cost. For instance, Robberson just added a swing shift to keep the service department open from 7 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday. "We focus on service, on taking care of customers," the owner says. "Being open until midnight, customers can drop off a car after work and have it ready for the next day." In the dealership's customer lounge is a wall of photos of long-term employees. "It reflects the kind of longevity we have in our dealership, and our focus on our employees," Robberson says. SEPTEMBER 2016 / ally / 7

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement

Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - Intro
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S1
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S2
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S3
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S4
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S5
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S6
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S7
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S8
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S9
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S10
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S11
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S12
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S13
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S14
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S15
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S16
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