While this aspect of the business has remained constant, the way the dealership group connects with customers is completely different than it was when O’Brocta joined.
Back then, he says, “It was taking the yellow pages and going to landscapers, writing 15 to 20 landscapers in a certain area, and that’s who you were going to prospect on.
“Now it’s very different. You go online and kind of do the same thing, but we have a lot more interaction when customers come to us through the website.”
The group’s merchant site is separate from that of its passenger vehicle business and offers an inventory as well as a custom vehicle order page.
“The website is designed to focus on the rear of the vehicle, not the front,” O’Brocta said. “Nobody goes to the website saying, ‘I’m looking for a Chevy. They keep looking for a dump truck or a van or a cube van.”
Commercial vehicles are sold at the group’s two stores, but Basil is taking steps to create a “more unified commercial and fleet department”, O’Brocta said. He has devoted more time this year to acquiring inventory and creating the group’s websites and commercial advertising.
Commercial vehicle production — much like passenger vehicle production — has been hit hard by factory issues, including the global shortage of microchips, which has cut millions of vehicles off automakers’ production plans. Basil has fewer commercial vehicles in stock than usual, and the wait for new trucks can range from six months to a year, according to O’Brocta.
Sales of commercial vehicles fell to 880 in 2021, representing around 5% of the 17,000 vehicles sold by Basil dealerships.