Automotive News 40 Under 40

Justin Brun

AGE: 28

POSITION: E-commerce manager, Acton Toyota of Littleton, Littleton, Mass.

 
Justin Brun

Justin Brun's success at using the Internet to generate sales for Acton Toyota of Littleton has earned him high marks and some hassle from Toyota.

About two years ago, Brun helped start a digital marketing consulting business at the dealership because so many stores were calling him for advice.

The company, Dynamic Beacon, assists dealers with everything from Web site creation and search-engine marketing to reputation management. Dynamic Beacon now has 20 stores as clients and four full-time employees.

Brun's Internet sales department at the store is thriving as well. With nine salespeople vs. 15 in the showroom, the Internet operation directly accounts for about 130 vehicle sales a month of the 350 new and used vehicles typically sold, Brun said. It indirectly influences many more shoppers to buy from Acton Toyota, he said.

Brun started at the store right out of high school, fueling cars and running them to reconditioning until working his way into the Internet department. But one of his proudest achievements at Acton Toyota also caused trouble with Toyota Financial Services.

For nearly five years until May, Acton Toyota sold factory-sponsored extended service contracts nationwide over the Internet. By advertising on enthusiast sites such as toyotanation.com and selling the plans at discounts of up to $750 compared with other dealerships, Acton Toyota was selling an average of 100 Toyota ExtraCare Vehicle Service Agreements a month.

That is, until Toyota forced all its dealerships, including Acton Toyota, to stop all nationwide Internet sales of the plans over concerns that the sales might put the automaker at odds with various state commerce regulations. Also, other Toyota dealerships selling the plans in-store complained about the practice.

Undeterred, Brun said Acton Toyota has expanded a similar online business selling prepaid maintenance plans.

-- David Barkholz