Mazda dealer reaches out to military families
In Fort Hood's hometown, store aims for 9% share
Jim Bagan has an audacious goal for the Mazda dealership he manages in the military town of Killeen, Texas: a 9 percent share of the local new-vehicle market.
That target is a tall order, given that Mazda's U.S. share of the new-vehicle market last year was 1.9 percent.
In Killeen, Bagan, 51, caters to soldiers at nearby Fort Hood. He runs the only Mazda store in town, so he is free to compete with other brands without fending off rival Mazda dealerships. And he uses Google to nab customers of Toyota and other big brands.
Killeen is about an hour's drive north of Austin, where Bagan and dealer Roger Beasley have made Mazda a significant player.
Beasley, with Bagan as equity partner, owns all three Austin Mazda dealerships. Bagan oversees these as managing partner, a position he has held since 1995. Each of the three stores is among the top-performing Mazda dealerships in the country and together they have earned Mazda a 10 percent market share in Austin, Mazda says.
Bagan is looking for similar results at Roger Beasley Mazda Killeen, which Beasley acquired last March, by achieving a 9 percent share by year end.
"I think with the full concentration of what we're doing in there and with our marketing position, we can maintain a solid 9 percent or 10 percent market share but also give the Tier 1 brands a serious run for their money," Bagan says.
He says the Killeen dealership sold 417 new vehicles and 145 certified-used Mazdas in 2012 after it was acquired. Bagan says the store is on pace to sell 650 new vehicles this year. Under the store's previous ownership, new-vehicle sales totaled 282 units in 2011, and the dealership did not participate in Mazda's certified pre-owned sales program. The sales growth has earned Mazda a 6 percent share of the local new vehicle market.
A commitment to Mazda
Tom Donnelly, general manager of Mazda North American Operations' Gulf region, says the turnaround is no surprise considering the performance of Beasley's other Mazda stores.
Beasley, one of Mazda's original U.S. dealers, opened his first store in Austin in 1972. The Austin stores consistently rank among Mazda's highest-performing dealerships nationally in sales, customer loyalty, service retention and customer satisfaction, Donnelly says.
"The fact that Roger has been a Mazda dealer for 40-plus years shows that he's really committed to the brand," Donnelly says.
Killeen is home to Fort Hood, the U.S. Army base that employs some 50,000 soldiers and 5,000 civilians. It's one of the world's largest military bases.
After the Killeen acquisition, Bagan brought in a team of managers, employees and consultants from the group's other stores to implement the company's best practices, Donnelly says. Part of that effort included Bagan and his staff meeting with military service members stationed at the base to raise the dealership's profile there.
The previous owner made less of an effort to forge strong ties with military personnel at Fort Hood, Donnelly says.
Bagan says the dealership implemented sales strategies to cater to military car shoppers and their families. For instance, enlisted men and women can take home paperwork necessary to buy a vehicle to review a potential deal with their spouse, military superiors on base and other support staff before signing.
"The young officers on the base appreciate that business model, because we're not taking advantage of young servicemen and putting some of their guys in situations that younger buyers or first-time buyers can get into," Bagan says.
He says the dealership also tries to stock plenty of units of vehicles featured in local advertising.
"What we advertise is what we sell, so it sets a good tone," he says.
Fishing in new ponds
Bagan says the group's strategy is to dominate the market for the brands it carries.
Bagan says the Killeen store was a growth opportunity. "I've got the Mazda market pretty well saturated" in Austin, Bagan says. "We've got to fish other places and I've got to go where the Asian brands already have credibility and where the Mazda nameplates might not have the recognition yet."
Being the only Mazda dealer in town lets the Beasley group concentrate on winning conquest sales rather than competing with dealerships of the same brand.
"Instead of spending our resources, time and energy defending our flanks from a fellow dealer with the same brand, it allows us focus on conquesting and getting the representation that the brand should get," Bagan says.
Each of Beasley's Mazda stores spends about 65 percent of its advertising budget on conquest ads. For instance, local car shoppers using Google to search for information on Toyota Camrys for sale in Austin will see ads comparing the Mazda6 with the Camry, Bagan says. Similar campaigns are used for all of Mazda's vehicle lines, he says.
Says Bagan: "I'm where Toyota customers are looking for Toyota, and I'm trying to peel off a percentage that will give us consideration."
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