The Secret to Being Herb Chambers
About one in seven people in Massachusetts buy a car from Herb Chambers’ fifty-six dealerships each year — nearly all of which bear his name. So how did he get there?
Herb Chambers is the 17th largest dealership group in the United States.
He has won more J.D. Power Certified retailer awards than any other automobile dealer in the country.
The Herb Chambers Companies is a great company to work for and has been ranked as one of the “Top Places to Work” by the Boston Globe for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
From a young age, Herb Chambers was driven.
He grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood in Boston, where he remembers only two out of 100 families coming home with a new car each year.
“I had this passion for autos from a very young age, especially Cadillacs. To this day, I remember a Dr. Molimo who owned a Cadillac convertible. I never went to see the doctor, but I knew of him because of his car.”
After serving four years in the U.S. Navy, Herb’s first venture was into the world of sales. He started as a copy machine repairman, discovering his knack for sales along the way. He sold service contracts, extended warranties, and ultimately copy machines. He was so successful that he decided to go into business for himself. His approach to the working world was to constantly ask himself:
“How can I do this job faster, more efficiently and produce better results?”
At age 23, he founded A-Copy America, a company that would become the largest office copier dealer in the world. In 1983, he merged the company with what is now known as Ikon, an international company listed on the New York Stock Exchange with operations in eight countries.
A lifelong car enthusiast, Herb looked to the automobile industry for his next big opportunity. In 1985, he purchased a Cadillac and Oldsmobile dealership in New London, Connecticut. Herb admits that:
“I didn’t go to buy a dealership; I went to buy a car. I thought the dealership was horrible. I saw their terrible sales force, a rundown facility and I knew this guy didn‘t like his business. So, I waited for the dealer to get back from lunch, sat him down, and within 35 minutes I had him sign a sales agreement. The rest is history.”
Next, Herb set his sights on a Cadillac dealership in Providence, Rhode Island, and acquired it with the approval of General Motors. That same year, he was chosen by Hyundai to be their local car dealer, just as the Korean manufacturer was preparing to enter the U.S. market. Just six months later, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche dealerships were available in Boston. Of the many applicants interesting in selling these prestigious brands, only Herb Chambers was chosen by all three manufacturers.
“Like everything else, I got totally engaged,’’ he says. “It’s part of my personality. I thought I’d buy one or two more dealerships … and it just keeps going.’’
Similar experiences occurred with other franchises.
When Toyota opened its new Lexus division, they chose Herb Chambers in their “Relentless Pursuit of Perfection” above all other dealers to represent them on “The Auto Mile” in Norwood. Today, Herb Chambers Lexus, now of Sharon, MA, is the largest and most successful dealer in all of New England.
Herb Chambers is also now the largest Honda retailer in New England, with four Honda locations: Burlington, Boston, Seekonk and Westborough, Massachusetts. He also has the largest volume Porsche, BMW, Hyundai and Dodge dealerships in New England, and his three Mercedes-Benz locations are ranked one, two and three in New England.
The Herb Chambers’ Sales strategy
Herb Chambers believes that the days of the hard-selling tactics of new and used car sales are over. With the availability of the internet to compare prices, and the availability of independent, third-party reviews, the car buyer in now more in charge of the negotiation.
Herb Chambers was one of the first dealerships in the United States to use a no-haggle pricing strategy called the “Smart Pricing” program. They also have all used cars undergo a safety inspection before purchase and attempting to insure there is no pressure from the salesperson. The dealer also has a refund program where the purchaser can bring the car back for any reason within the first five days and receive a full refund or within 30 days or 1,500 miles for a full credit.
Herb has always known that there are many places that you can buy your next car, truck or SUV so therefore he focused his company on providing a superior overall client experience.
“Don’t like car dealers? Great. Neither do I.”
In 2014, five Herb Chambers dealerships were awarded the DealerRater “Dealers of the Year” outstanding customer satisfaction.
In March 2015, Herb Chambers BMW of Sudbury was awarded a 2016 Center of Excellence honor by BMW of North America.“If you are passionate about what you do, you will never work another day in your life. In all honesty, I love what I do so much, that I wouldn’t consider anything else.”
In May 2016, Chambers was awarded an honorary doctorate in business administration from University of New Haven.