How has the used-car market evolved in recent years? How does a merchant find and maintain success in 2018? What are the principal challenges?
We put these questions and more to Marie-Claude and Dominique Durocher, two young but experienced businesswomen who are the sole co-owners of Entrepôt Auto Durocher in Laval, just outside Montreal. The company was first founded 50 years ago, in 1968, and the sisters’ father, Robert, is still its president.
Young, experienced and connected
After getting started working part-time at around the age of 15, Dominique earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration; Marie-Claude, for her part, studied to be a technical advisor. Today Dominique is in charge of vehicle procurement at auctions, while Marie-Claude is head of the service and detailing department.
Of the firm belief that business success today is only possible by adopting a more human approach, towards employees as much as towards customers, the Durocher sisters are focused on being attentive to people’s needs, developing close relationships and working in full transparency (a word, in fact, that came up regularly during our conversation).
At the company’s new facility in Laval, they were active participants in the expansion of Entrepôt Auto Durocher, whose team of employees has grown from 60 to over 100 in just two and a half years (worth noting, about 50% of the team is made up of women, which is unusual in the automotive retail domain). In that time, the company has used traditional media but also been active on YouTube and social media to increase its visibility; the Facebook page alone has over 70,000 followers!
Serving today’s consumers
With the Durocher sisters steering the ship, Entrepôt Auto Durocher has understood the importance of making the shopping experience as easy and convenient as possible. Consumers today want things done quickly and kept simple, often through the offer of turnkey service. The company therefore operates with extended opening hours (including from 10 am to 7 pm on Sundays), and offers its customers over 325 vehicles displayed indoors, all in one location, with upwards of 100 new arrivals refreshing the inventory every week. Sales representatives are paid on a fixed commission basis, whatever the model, eliminating the incentive to sell only higher-margin models. By reducing the profit margin it demands per vehicle, Entrepôt Auto Durocher is able to offer “pre-negotiated” prices that are lower than at many other retailers. In addition, the company is the only used-vehicle dealership in Quebec authorized to offer an on-site vehicle-registration service.
The innovations don’t end there: in this digital age in which online shopping is rapidly becoming the norm, Entrepôt Auto Durocher allows customers the option to do 100% of their shopping online and have their vehicle delivered anywhere in the province. The Durocher sisters say this solution is becoming an increasingly popular one among its clientele.
In another nod to the changing realities of the business in the modern age, among which is the advent of certified pre-owned vehicle programs offered by manufacturers, Entrepôt Auto Durocher carries out inspections performed by certified technicians in a large, modern service centre, which, again in the interest of transparency, is open to members of the public. Every customer also receives a CarProof vehicle history report.
The company, fifty years in business, is at the forefront of innovation in the used-vehicle domain, and an example for other retailers who are looking to adapt successfully to the terrain as it exists in 2018.