Welcome to this week’s episode of Used Cars Weekly, the original CBT News show dedicated to bringing car dealers best practices and tips for the used car department, in-depth dealer interviews, hands-on dealership strategies, as well as vendor analysis. Today, host Jasen Rice, founder of Lotpop, is joined by Rob Ruth, President of Bob Ruth Ford.
Ruth has been immersed in the automotive industry for practically his entire life. His father, Bob Ruth, bought the dealership in 1983, and raised Rob in the residence above it. Ruth says he began working at the dealership at age six and has held almost every position imaginable. Although Bob Ruth passed away in 2017, Rob explains that his tenacity and work ethic were valuable traits that he inherited from his father. After buying out the dealership in its entirety in 2019, Ruth said that the dealership was at peak performance. Then, COVID hit.
Ruth was surprised and disappointed to learn that the state of Pennsylvania considered car dealerships non-essential services, and called for them to be shut down. However, it pushed the dealership to accelerate its digital offerings, and pushed the staff to be innovative. Bob Ruth Ford created a buying center to encourage used-vehicle acquisitions from private sellers, and Rob says it was one of the best moves they have made so far. Given the current market conditions, Ruth says that he has been acquiring privately sold vehicles for lower costs than at the auctions.
Ruth adds that the dealership also had to make some tough personnel decisions, but they kept on the BDC staff and a selection of other departments. From Ruth’s perspective, it was crucial to have a robust BDC that could keep communicating with customers. While Ruth admits that change is not easy, he has looked at himself internally as a leader which has helped with employee buy-in.
Ultimately, Ruth says he does the best he can. He tries to make decisions that he is proud of and honor the family legacy. Although there are things he wishes he’d done differently during COVID, he also strives to move forward.
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