Eleven years ago, Dave Jachter contemplated two career paths: leave the automobile sales industry, or change the way the industry did business.
He chose the latter, and today, Jachter, the principal dealer of Wilsonville Toyota, is being awarded as one of TIME magazine and Ally Financial's 47 nominees for "Dealer of the Year."
Jachter, 62, was nominated for the award by Oregon Auto Dealers Association Executive Director Greg Remensperger, and will find out if he won the industry's top honor at a the 49th annual National Automobile Dealers Associa-
tion's 2018 show in Las Vegas in March.
"It's kind of like the Academy Awards for car dealers," Jachter told The Spokesman. "There's approximately 17,000 dealers in the country, and to recognized as someone who really has made a difference in their community and the business itself is incredibly flattering. It's the culmination of 37 years in the business."
A native of Middletown, N.J., Jachter held several different positions with dealerships and financial institutions in New Mexico and Texas before joining Bob Lanphere dealerships in Beaverton in the 1990s. Jachter has since acquired two of his own dealerships — Wilsonville Toyota in 2007 and Wilsonville Subaru in 2016.
"(In 2007) there were more than 200 dealers who had applied. When I went before a board of Toyota executives and made a two-hour-long presentation on how I was going to change the business, I knew it was a complete gamble. They were either going to throw me out or be really excited about it," Jachter said.
What he didn't know was that Toyota has been looking for new and fresh ideas to make the transaction of buying an automobile more pleasant and something people would actually like to do rather than dread.
"Every car dealer I spoke to with exception of Bob Lanphere, who is my partner, said I was out of my mind; I'd go back to doing it the traditional way within six months; I'd never make any money doing it, they'll all beat my price by $100 and steal all my customers," he said. "I told them all the same thing: I'll change and go back to my old way of doing business when they pry the keys from my cold, dead hand."
Jachter hired a completely new sales team with little to no experience so he could train them to sell cars "the right way," within the "no bull" company culture he wanted to create. He says he put a great price on every vehicle and took the negotiating out of the deal. His vision was for customers not only to see a competitive price, but also a great experience associated with purchasing a car — far from what the industry had painted itself to be throughout the past half-century, he said.
"I wanted to get rid of all the tricks and backroom stuff everyone hates about our business," Jachter said. "We came up with a model that is incredibly transparent, we're completely upfront and we have incredible people. Almost my entire management team has been with me since the day we started; that's rare in an industry that turns over its employees 100 percent, on average, each year."
The result of Jachter's vision for doing things in a different way led to Wilsonville Toyota having the highest customer retention rate among any Toyota dealership on the West Coast.
While he's happy to be nominated for the award, Jachter believes he wouldn't be where he is today without the help of his sales and management teams that uphold his "no bull" policy each and every day.
"Customers are coming back, recommending their friends, relatives and co-workers. Nothing means more to a business than repeat and referral business," he said. "It's really cool TIME and ALLY have recognized what we've done and nominated us for this award."