Brandon Kamigaki, 39
Retail Product Owner, Servco Pacific
When it became clear that the traditional dealership sales process must undergo a drastic digital transformation, Brandon Kamigaki asked the million-dollar question: How could store employees embrace and leverage the new technologies?
Kamigaki pondered that just after obtaining master's degrees in business administration and finance from Northeastern University in 2019. That same year, his employer — Servco Pacific Inc. based in Honolulu — took steps to form its digital strategy team. Kamigaki got involved and was tasked with helping build and integrate new technology into the sales process at nine Servco dealerships across Hawaii.
When the coronavirus pandemic forced Servco showrooms to temporarily close, it became necessary to speed up the team's plans. In two months in spring 2020, Servco implemented online car-buying tools from Roadster, a digital retailing services provider, at the dealerships.
To Kamigaki, establishing omnichannel capabilities with the new approach was crucial. Omnichannel refers to technology and processes aimed at providing a seamless buying experience for consumers whether they shop online, in-store or both.
Kamigaki also wanted to demonstrate to Servco employees that such an approach could mean still-efficient customer service and communication with buyers even as the pandemic raged.
"We can be creating or innovating, right, but really, without adoption, innovation doesn't even matter," Kamigaki told Automotive News.
Roadster was the first step in the development of Servco's e-commerce platform and in overhauling in-store processes to enable customers to browse all inventory and structure a deal online, Kamigaki said. Servco experienced a 28 percent closing ratio for Roadster leads compared with 8 percent for traditional Internet leads.
Co-workers have been key to fine-tuning any digital strategies, Kamigaki said.
"There's a lot of mutual respect that pushes us along to do what's best," he said. "We can give each other feedback. ... It allows me to adjust on our strategy."
More innovation came when Kamigaki and the team worked to add vehicle licensing capabilities directly in Servco dealerships.
The time it took for customers to receive plates and registration was once "exceptionally bad" in the city and county of Honolulu, Kamigaki said. Sometimes it took up to five weeks for customers to get those materials. Servco employees noticed an influx of customers worrying about timeliness and tickets.
The city and county of Honolulu later updated the licensing process. Kamigaki and the team worked to build an application into the process that would interface with the motor vehicle department. Printing registrations at the dealerships and releasing license plates were other steps.
The encouraging results? The time it took to issue plates dropped to between one and seven days, Kamigaki said.
— C.J. Moore