Ryan Bolz, 35
Director of digital marketing and e-commerce, Hendrick Automotive Group
Ryan Bolz’s introduction to the marketing side of automotive retail came early in his career, in 2011, when he was offered the chance to manage regional digital marketing efforts for Hendrick Automotive Group’s Charleston, S.C., market.
In 2013, Bolz got the opportunity to lead a bigger task: Build the social and reputation management strategy for the entire dealership group. From scratch.
Bolz said his mission was to organize Hendrick’s online presence and make brand awareness part of the culture at every dealership.
The efforts paid off when Hendrick topped Reputation.com’s list of privately held large U.S. dealership groups in 2019 and 2020. That ranking is based on a score generated by Reputation.com and derived in part from customer reviews and the accuracy of online business listings.
While the external honor is validating, Bolz said, what matters more are the measures that happen locally: a dealership recognizing staff for delivering a positive customer experience, or store employees making it a priority to resolve an issue for a customer.
“The real wins happen day to day at the dealership with our customers and with our teammates,” Bolz said. “This is becoming part of the way that they build advocacy and loyalty.”
Bolz didn’t plan to build a career in automotive retail. None of his family members work at a dealership. In college, he majored in philosophy and studied biology and chemistry, with plans to attend medical school and pursue research in neuroscience fields. Then a friend offered him a summer job working on the website for a Toyota dealership in Charleston. That store later was acquired by Hendrick.
Now at Hendrick for a decade, Bolz is part of a companywide project to speed the time it takes to get new inventory and updated prices online. His role is to improve integration between Hendrick’s inventory distribution system and websites — both individual store sites and third-party listings sites — so customers can get information in near real time.
“The faster we can move and the more inventory that we can make available,” Bolz said, “the faster the turn and the more eyeballs and opportunity we can get on these vehicles.”
— Lindsay VanHulle