Community-driven Hatfield brings home awards
Redlands, Calif.—Not many dealerships can say they have been voted “Best New Car” or “Best New Truck Dealer” in the whole county; especially if the county is San Bernardino, the largest in the U.S. with an area of 20,105 square miles.
Yet, that’s exactly what family-owned Hatfield Buick GMC, which opened in 1913, has done. And they’ve earned not just one, but both of those people’s choice awards of recognition.
Additionally, Hatfield has achieved “superior customer retention” status among GM dealers, with a score in the high 80 percent range — one of the highest in the U.S.
“We have always placed a lot of importance on being a part of our community and taken an active role in the life of the community,” third-generation owner Bill Hatfield said, “whether it’s supporting the football teams, the high schools, the middle schools, or the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. And the community has supported us.”
“Customers also choose us because of our years of knowledge and technical expertise,” said Henry Adame, director of service and the body shop, with 18 years experience in collision estimating and as a service consultant. “We consistently have the mechanical and collision parts they need and can help ‘problem solve’ when required.”
The body shop uses Axalta paint and does outside work on import vehicles and all domestic vehicles.
“We stock between $300,000 and $350,000 in parts and have more than 6,000 SKUs,” said Parts Manager Michael Madrid, who has worked at Hatfield for more than 21 years, starting as a counter person. “We remodeled the parts department in 2013 and we are constantly upsizing the inventory to keep up with our growth, changes in the industry, and customer demand.”
Because the dealership has existed for more than a century, Madrid said he also has parts for GM cars and trucks dating back to the 1970s and older, and has access to even more when customers have special needs.
“Many of our parts customers need ‘antiquated’ parts for a customer’s vehicle, or their own, so I stock a variety of new old stock (NOS) parts,” Madrid said. “We also sell GM Performance parts because a lot of our customers want more performance, or want to put a modern drivetrain in their 1953 Buick.”
He said the dealership also sells remanufactured/rebuilt engines and transmissions and crate motors, and services many fleet customers, which make up about 25 percent of the department’s business.
“We have two parts delivery vehicles, offer free local parts delivery daily within the Inland Empire, and do hot shot deliveries as needed,” Madrid said. “We keep in contact with drivers by cell phone, and provide customer updates by text, email, or phone.”
Wholesale parts business has increased by about 15 percent in the past two years, which Madrid attributes to overall growth in the industry and economy, an increase in inventory, increased marketing efforts, and continued strength in customer satisfaction and retention.
Adame said that as new car technology improves, service intervals are longer, so he combats the loss of routine maintenance by reaching out to his customers about six months after purchase for a “pit stop.”
“We have them come in so we can check and top off fluids, check tire wear, or see if they’ve encountered any problems,” he said. “Also, OnStar notifies us when the vehicle needs an oil change, has any problems such as a TPMS issue, a light bulb out, or recalls, and we contact the customer by email and phone.”
Technicians, parts consultants, and service advisers are continually taking GM training classes both in-house and at the GM Training Center, in Glendale, to ensure customers that they are up to date on the newest technology, Adame said.
“For technicians, about 90 percent is Webinars and videos online and 10 percent is at the GM training center,” he said. “Parts and service consultants get about 99 percent online.”
Citing a new GM transmission as an example, Adame said techs take three online classes in the dealership and then they go to the training center to finish training and take the test to make sure they understand everything they did online.
“GM training is drilled right down to the product so we’re learning about all the new vehicles, all the new stuff, the options – and they change rapidly,” he said. “And nobody on the outside can keep up with the advancements that GM makes in its technology.”
“We pride ourselves on providing a first-class customer experience to our retail and wholesale customers,” Madrid said. “We provide courteous, speedy, service and go out of our way to help our customers from Yucaipa to Riverside, to San Bernardino to Ontario and the Inland Empire.”