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Autobytel Dealer Spotlight: Joe Homen, Tracy Toyota
Autobytel Dealer Spotlight: Joe Homen, Tracy Toyota

Joe Homen, General Manager, Tracy Toyota
May 2015 Autobytel Dealer of the Month

We'd like to congratulate Joe Homen, General Manager of Tracy Toyota, for being named Autobytel's Dealer of the Month for May 2015.

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, and mobile and emerging technologies.

We recently spoke with Joe about the importance of taking care of the customer and finding out their needs, and how that has been a critical part in driving his store's success.

Tell us about yourself and your store. What is your official title, what brands do you sell and what are your primary markets?

My name is Joe Homen, and I am the General Manager for Tracy Toyota Scion in California. We are a single point Toyota and Scion store owned by NFL Hall of Fame legend, Ronnie Lott, and serving Tracy and the East Bay, as well as San Joaquin County. Our store has a great, experienced staff and I'm proud to say, we're all focused on making sure our customers are as happy as possible.

How long have you been an Autobytel dealer and what do you think are the primary benefits of being on the Autobytel program?

I took over this store in December 2014 and they were already using the Autobytel program, but I have been with Autobytel at every dealership I've worked with in my 21 years in this business. The Autobytel program has many benefits in my opinion. With the program, we reach a lot of people, we receive good quality leads, and it really allows us to have a bigger footprint.

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.

We pride ourselves on being up front, and we are a transparent company. We are here for our customers, and we do our best to serve their exact needs. For instance, we know how busy our customers are, so, we will deliver cars right to their front doors if needed.

Besides that, a major part of our commitment to our customers is responding to them in a very timely manner. Our response time averages about 3 minutes, and maintaining that level or response is very important to us. Additionally, all leads that come into our store are treated the same. I think our store and my team have a pretty good system in place!

What are your thoughts about being named an Autobytel Dealer of the Month?

I think it's great! I think more stores should aspire to be named an Autobytel Dealer of the Month.

What are some tips or advice you would give other retailers when it comes to effectively managing Internet customers?

We live in a fast paced world, and people are busy. Your customers are busy. My advice is to do everything you can to take care of your customers the right way, that's the bottom line. That includes listening to your customer to find out their exact needs. Not everyone goes out of their way to take care of the customer, but it's critical. Whatever we can do to make the car buying experience convenient for them, we're happy to do it! Customers can search online for any vehicle nowadays. So it's even more important to listen closely to your customers, because in the end they can choose to buy from any dealership.

Car buying and today's customers are so different as compared to 21 years ago when I first started in this business. If you're not shifting with the times, then simply put, you're not in the game. It's very important to adapt.

What are your general thoughts about the auto industry right now? How are sales? Any interesting things happening at Tracy Toyota or with the brand that you'd like to share?

Toyota has the hydrogen fuel cell car coming out soon and that will be very exciting. The entire Toyota line up is awesome! The new Tacoma is coming out, too. Light truck sales set June records, and the Tundra recently hit record highs, too. It's a great truck, in fact, it's one of the best re-selling trucks in the industry right now. At Tracy Toyota, our trends are equally healthy. We're hitting all-time highs in sales and customers and preparing to grow the dealership even more.

What are your thoughts on the new / emerging technologies coming out of Autobytel? For instance, receiving leads via text and texting with customers? Web based chat?

It's great that Autobytel is keeping up with the latest in technology. And as a dealer, if you don't keep up with technology, then you're just not in it. You have to stay five steps ahead because technology changes all the time. Some people find something they like and stick with it for several years, but technology moves even faster, and they are getting left behind. People have to stay in tune with the latest technologies. And, if you aren't mobile-focused, you're behind the curve.

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 rarely have free time, but when I do, I like to golf, race cars, and spend time with my family. I have five kids, the oldest is a teenager and the youngest is 5 months old. Needless to say, my life is very busy, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

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.

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