On any given day that you visit a Bruce Titus Automotive Group dealership, expect to see at least one dog. Affection for animals, especially of the canine variety, is part of the company’s DNA, starting with owner and founder Bruce Titus.
“Bruce has always had a special love for dogs,” says Courtney Titus Barr, the company’s digital marketing manager (and Bruce’s daughter). “A few of the people at our corporate office bring their dogs to work and if you walk into any of the dealerships there’s usually two or three, four legged friends hanging out. Customers love to be able to bring their animals in and others love to see all the animals.”
But dogs aren’t just part of the ambience at Bruce Titus. For every qualified test drive, the company donates $25 to the local Humane Society or Concern for Animals through the Bruce Titus Pet Project. In the past seven years, the project has raised $10,200 for the Thurston County Humane Society, $13,550 for the Tacoma/ Pierce County Humane Society, and $5,150 for the Kitsap Humane Society.
That’s typical of how the company functions, says Barr. “We play a huge part in the communities where we operate. We’re involved in everything from participating in our employees’ children’s sports teams to donating vehicles for charity events. Bruce has also done a lot for causes like cystic fibrosis.”
As a result of both his philanthropy and leadership, Titus was recognized with the Time Dealer of the Year award at the National Automotive Dealer Association Convention in 2012. “It was a huge honor,” says Barr. “I think it shocked him a little bit. He was excited to represent the state of Washington, but he doesn’t do these things to gain anything. He just knows they’re the right things to do.”
Bruce Titus got an early start in the industry, growing up in Tacoma and working for the family business. In 1995 he struck out on his own, opening Tacoma Nissan. Since then, he has continued to expand. The company now maintains multiple locations throughout the south sound, including Olympia Nissan, Olympia Chrysler Jeep, Tacoma Subaru, and Port Orchard Ford. Each site sells both new and used cars and provides automotive parts and services for cars that are both new and used.
At the beginning of 2017, they rolled out a new approach to working with clients. “Bruce noticed that the industry has changed,” says Barr. “We’re not here to sell you a car, we’re here to meet your needs, be a resource for you and give you all the facts.” The shift in emphasis brought about a name change as well. Sales associates are now known as ‘car guides’ and are focused as much on process as on outcome.
As a first step, car guides learn about their customers’ needs. “Once they evaluate what those are, they’ll look at what’s going to be best for your vehicle based on what you’ve told us,” says Barr. “What’s better for you and your budget – to maintain the vehicle that you have or trade it in? If you want to purchase a new vehicle, we’ll let you know what options you have and help you make an informed decision.”
Part of the goal is to make the process enjoyable as well as informative. “We understand that you have other things you’d rather be doing,” says Barr. “We want to get you in and out and have you drive away in a safe vehicle.”
Since Bruce Titus implemented the approach, the feedback has been positive. “We get a lot of google reviews that say it was a great experience and they loved working with us,” Barr says. “Our goal is to make the buying experience as easy and seamless as possible.”
The approach extends to clients who find themselves in unexpected crises. One family’s teenaged son was hit by another driver through no fault of his own. “They immediately called the dealership and we got them into a loaner vehicle for their son to drive while they purchased an upgraded car,” says Barr. “He was able to get to and from school and by the following weekend they were driving away in a new vehicle.”
In another case, a military couple had come in looking to make a purchase, but while they were still in the process of completing it, the husband was deployed. “The wife had two young children and it was hard for her to get back down to the dealership to finish the paperwork,” says Barr. “At that point she was essentially a single mom. We drove the vehicle and the paperwork to her to make it easy.”
Clients run the gamut of ages and income levels. “Yesterday in Olympia I met an older couple looking at a 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The same day at our Ford dealership, a mom and dad whose son just turned 16 were looking for a safe pre-owned vehicle,” says Barr. “There’s something for everyone.”
The key to making it all work is the staff, she maintains. “We’ve tried to create a great community in which to operate, and our staff are the biggest factor. They’re the ones who make us who we are. Some of them have been here for the full 22 years since we started. That’s a real testament to how we do business.”
To learn more, visit www.brucetitus.com.