When David Alderson started working at his family’s dealership in 1979, he wasn’t even old enough to drive. More senior employees had to back vehicles into the washing area before Alderson could put his rag to work. 

In the 36 years since, Alderson spent time in the parts and service department, became the general manager in 1992 and is now the CEO and third-generation owner of Texas’ Alderson Auto Group – roles that have helped Alderson fully grasp his family’s business. “A lot of general managers do not get the benefit of working through what I feel is the most important part: the service side of the organization,” Alderson says.

 

Integrating With Community

Alderson Auto Group has been a staple in Lubbock, Texas, since 1949. The company considers itself to be a mid-market dealer and operates five luxury brand dealerships: Cadillac, BMW, Lexus and two Mercedes Benz stores, one in Lubbock and one two hours south in Midland, Texas. With a population just shy of 240,000, Lubbock is the hub city for West Texas, and Alderson Auto Group serves a 150-mile radius around the city. For some of its brands, such as Lexus and Mercedes, Alderson Auto Group is the only dealership in the region. Like every business in town, Alderson says key local economic engines fuel his company: agriculture, healthcare/bioscience, advanced technology and education, which are anchored by Texas Tech University.

Texas Tech is an especially important partner for Alderson Auto Group. The company supplies vehicles to several of the coaches and relies heavily on advertising at Texas Tech sporting events. Even the backsides of the key chains Alderson Auto Group gives to customers feature the Texas Tech Corporate Partner logo. “If we didn’t have Texas Tech, Lubbock would be a far different city than it is today,” Alderson says. “We support them, they support us.”

The relationship with Texas Tech is just one way Alderson has entrenched itself in the Lubbock community. The importance of local involvement was passed down from Alderson’s grandfather, W.G. Alderson, a member of the town school board and namesake of Alderson Elementary School. “For 66 years now, that’s a big part of what we do out here in west Texas, trying to sponsor as many organizations as we can,” Alderson says.

Community connections have been a key part of Alderson Auto Group’s success throughout its existence. Alderson Auto Group customers are more than just buyers – they’re neighbors. When Alderson is at community events, he is confident in knowing that if he bumps into a customer, they are being taken care of by Alderson Auto Group’s staff. “We want to make sure they can get everything they need here, from their local dealer,” Alderson explains. The company has been a part of Lubbock for so long that customer lists can span three or four generations of the same family. “It’s taking care of these folks that allows them to bring in their sons and daughters,” Alderson says.

When Alderson hired Troy Tucker as the auto group’s new general manager in 2010, he challenged Tucker to find new ways to connect to the community. Tucker, who came to Lubbock with more than 18 years of factory and retail luxury automotive experience, brought a different set of eyes to the operation. He soon realigned Alderson Auto Group’s marketing strategy to a more digital approach by shifting the focus from traditional advertising to the Internet, creating Facebook and Twitter accounts, and updating the website with new features, such as allowing customers to fill out credit applications online. 

Further, Tucker involved key third-party vendors, such as Dealer.com, Autotrader.com and Cars.com and DealerSocket, to better market Alderson Auto Group vehicles and open the business up to a wider audience. “We really upped our game from the technology standpoint to make it easier to communicate with our customers,” Tucker says.

 

Investing In Service

During the past several years, Alderson Auto Group has rebuilt several of its dealerships to keep pace with the needs of modern customers. A new Lexus facility opened in 2007, followed by the new Midland Mercedes Benz in 2011, and new BMW, Cadillac and Mercedes Benz dealerships in Lubbock in 2014. It would have been an easy option to construct the replacement dealerships on vacant land in other parts of town, perhaps to the southwest where Lubbock’s retail growth has been concentrated in recent years. 

However, the auto group wanted to stay on the downtown campus where it has been located since 1949 and invested more than $10 million in overhauling its existing location. “It’s very import ant that we show our longtime commitment to the downtown community,” Tucker says.

Alderson Auto Group is matching its commitment to its community with its commitment to vehicle manufacturers. The dealership group strives to work with automakers to ensure each Alderson location represents those brands well.

The company also operates with transparency from the bottom up to the top down. Tucker is accessible to employees and customers and works to push Alderson Auto Group as an associate-driven culture.

New technology is further changing the way Alderson Auto Group interacts with its customers. Improving infrastructure to expand wireless access and increase bandwidth was one of the goals for the new dealerships so that clients and associates may work using their phones or tablets anywhere in the buildings. The company transitioned to the tablet system in June with a new customer relationship management system, which now enables sales associates to access manufacturer websites, pull up new and pre-owned inventory, load a trade appraisal and prepare a client proposal worksheet without ever having to leave the customer.

Alderson Auto Group wants to continue to expand on technology. Already, customers can set service appointments on www.alderson.com and the company is preparing to take the service drive experience into the digital arena in the coming months as well, Tucker explains. 

Investing in online services and marketing will continue to be a part of Alderson Auto Group’s strategy moving forward because access to information has enabled customers to become more knowledgeable about vehicles. “They’re coming in because they’re ready to buy,” Tucker says. “Our presence on the Internet is very important because we want to be that one place they come after they do their research.” 

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