Navigating the Curves (2011 BE100s Auto Dealer of the Year)

Surviving tragic losses and industry turmoil, Jenell Ross repositions the family dealership to speed past the competition

When much of your customer base is in the community, it’s important to be active and visible within that community in order to attract future business. With Norma’s passing, Jenell stepped into her mother’s role. “It’s almost a side job of trying to really make sure that I manage her things that she’s done and things that she started, so that they don’t get lost or don’t continue,” says Jenell. “But at the same time, I’ve got to run a business.”

Selling Cars in the 21st Century
And that business is selling cars, which requires a different strategy than in years past. With access to a vehicle’s specifications, pricing, and features at consumers’ fingertips, Ross embraces technology to help sell vehicles. Although it has a presence on Twitter and Facebook, and a website (www.bobrossauto.com), the dealership still relies on old-fashioned relationship building. “Years ago there was always the high-pressure tactics and people were pretty much in the dark about how cars were priced, and rebates, and so forth and so on. But with the Internet, customers today are very knowledgeable of pricing and rebates,” says Spencer. “We have to provide that level of service and if we don’t, we aren’t going to be here. There are too many choices for them.”

Now that Jenell is handling her mother’s job, she has made some changes. “We took a little bit of a different direction last year and into this year with taking more vehicles to events for exposure of product, for maybe a silent auction for a weekend use of a vehicle,” she says. “There are a lot of dealers in the Dayton area, so you have to be creative and try to make sure that we’re not resting on our laurels of what we have been involved in.” The Ross family and other managers are also involved with community organizations.

Jenell looks to overcome the tragedies of the past—both professional and personal—and bring the company back on the growth track. Eric E. Peterson, U.S. Vice President-Diversity for GM, and a longtime family friend, is bullish on the future success

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