In 1998, the Ziff Davis media and marketing firm named Crevier BMW's web site as the best new-car site in the country. Three years later, a quarter of the Santa Ana, CA dealership's sales start with a point and a click.
Owner Donald Crevier says, “25% of our business is coming to us from the Internet.” He believes the high percentage can be partly attributed to the fact the store sells a luxury brand and prospective buyers tend to be wealthier and better educated with access to the Internet. “I think probably the more educated your client is they are probably a bigger user,” says Mr. Crevier.
As a result of its commitment to Internet sales and its www.crevierbmw.com site, Crevier BMW ranks 52nd on the inaugural Ward's Dealer Business e-Dealer 100 list with 401 new-unit sales for $18.3 million, 82 used-vehicle sales for $2.7 million.
Mr. Crevier, however, doesn't think he needs to worry about being put out of business by the Internet. He sees it as an added convenience given the busier lives people lead today. He says it's just easier for someone to log on to a web site than spend time going from lot to lot inspecting vehicles and gathering information.
“For a lot of people it's easier time-wise,” he says. “A lot of it is just research. They are doing their homework.”
He also isn't worried about third-party web sites eating into dealer sites. “I think Autobytel is an alternative,” he says. “Some people are seeking different ways to go through the process. Some of them choose a third party because they're not comfortable with the traditional process. But they ultimately still end up dealing with the dealer. The door is just opened by a different method.”
The Crevier web site features new cars and used, as well as a link to vehicles available for lease from www.crevierleasing.com. All vehicle listings include photos and brief descriptions. The site includes a parts-and-accessories section, a service section where reservations can be made and also offers maintenance tips, and BMW merchandise and news.
When brothers Bob and Bill Crevier founded Crevier BMW in Santa Ana in 1971 they weren't sure what the future held. BMW was almost an unknown entity in the United States at the time and selling the brand proved to be an uphill climb. Thirty years later, BMW has firmly established itself as a luxury brand in America. “Beemers” are synonymous with California culture, and Crevier BMW now is the largest-volume BMW dealership in the western U.S. and the third largest in the entire nation, behind Braman Motorcars of West Palm Beach, FL and Braman Motors of Miami.
Located 40 miles south of the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles in the Santa Ana Auto Mall, Crevier serves an elite clientele who have come to appreciate the dealership's commitment to their customers. Don Crevier, son of co-founder Bob, attributes some of the dealership's success to its 30 years in the community, but says his employees deserve a lot of the credit.
“The way we treat people is largely a result of the people we have,” he says. “I have two sales managers that have been here over 25 years each. There's a lot of longevity here. Our people are just very nice and well trained. They treat people as they would want to be treated. I think our employees are a large part of our success.”
Mr. Crevier joined the company in 1974 as a sales manager and became a full partner in 1975. Prior to 1974, he spent the eight years following his college graduation at a nearby Ford dealership.