Since 1969, Halton Honda has been the Honda dealer of choice in Burlington, Ont. A family-run operation led by brothers Richard and Peter Bellm, Halton Honda is a third generation automotive dealership that points to its history and stability in the marketplace as a key reason why the company has seen so much success over the years.
In its more than 40 years in business, Halton Honda has overseen significant growth, from an initial team of eight employees that stands more than 80 strong today, plus growth on its field operations side, from its original four service bays to more than 20 service bays today.
Halton Honda is a proud community supporter that continuously pledges to local events and a variety of youth sports leagues. Halton Honda’s culture of care extends beyond its own doors.
“We have built a brand image with our reputation and stability over a long period,” Peter Bellm, Vice-President of Halton Honda, told The Canadian Business Journal. “We are consistent with our brand image. We are not a dealership that tries to convince people that this is the best time ever to buy a vehicle because that only impresses people for so long. We think more in terms of building an image and creating stability that people can trust.
“We maintain the philosophy that the customer gets looked after and as a result everything else looks after itself. We are not focused on a 30-day bottom line. We are focused on a much longer term – having a nice, stable business where we see our role as looking after our employees who in turn look after our customers, and that’s our philosophy.”
The global recession has taken its toll on many businesses in recent years, particularly those in the automotive sector. At Halton Honda, that theme was no different, where the economic pressures were certainly felt. Nevertheless, given its history in the marketplace and its commitment to not only its customers but also managing a lean operation, Halton Honda endured the economic downturn.
“The automotive business is always going to feel things like the recession, where it was very much the canary in the coal mine in terms of consumer confidence,” Bellm explained. “People typically look at some form of payment plan for their vehicle and their confidence for the next several years that they can make these payments, so when the economy gets a bit soft, we get fewer customers.
“We weren’t affected as much as other dealers because we have a strong franchise, we have longevity, and we have a good community in Burlington with many loyal and repeat customers. It’s about adapting to the times and making sure that you are controlling your costs and that you are doing everything that you can for the customer to maintain their confidence and to keep business. Recessions have been and gone, and you just have to keep your head down and be sensible to get through those times.”
With the market back in growth mode, so too is consumer demand, particularly on the side of fuel efficient, hybrid vehicles. Fuel economy is front of mind with the customer, and Halton Honda has long been a recognized leader in offering top of the line products in the green technology category. The Honda Benefit Program emphasizes fuel efficiency and low emission technology to ensure that the Honda brand remains on the forefront of new product development.
“We have some very proven and reliable technology, but we also have fuel efficiency throughout all of our vehicles. It doesn’t matter if it’s the biggest truck or smallest car in its segment, they are always very close to the top in fuel economy,” Bellm summarized. “People can spend a bit more for a vehicle and get better fuel mileage, or they can spend less for a vehicle and spend more for fuel. Lots of people think about fuel economy, where they want hybrids and electric cars, and we have made those products available.”
Halton Honda always looks for the best ways to offer its customers best in class service. As the economy changes, so too does consumer behaviour, and Halton Honda has adapted alongside this transformation.
“We have long-term clientele who like to do their business with us in the traditional way, where there are personal relationships, and we also have Generation Y, who wants to use their mobile devices to interact with us,” Bellm concluded. “You have to be able to respond to people on several different levels.
“We don’t set long-term goals because everything is always in flux. Rather, it’s about maintaining our finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the market and continuing to adapt to that.”