This November, Subaru will begin selling a redesigned Impreza sedan. One of the new elements of the car came as a direct result of the input provided by Robert J. Alvine ’97 MBA who is president and general manager of the Premiere Subaru franchise in Branford, Conn.
“This is the first vehicle I have been involved with from drawings and computer modeling through the prototype test drives in Japan and the official rollout,” says Alvine, who was appointed last year as one of only three U.S. dealership owners to be part of the Product Planning Committee for Subaru. “I made a suggestion about the new grill back when the car was just in its design stage, and to see that included was pretty cool.”
Alvine says many of the ideas he passes on to Subaru executives come from the customers he has developed relationships with during the more than 10 years he has run the dealership. They feel comfortable sharing their input because of Alvine’s emphasis on customer satisfaction, which has historically been a challenge for the automobile industry. He learned this firsthand after transitioning from the banking field.
“I went from being in an industry where everyone believed everything I said to one in which they believed nothing,” he explains.
An A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau of Connecticut and a trophy case full of awards for excellence in customer service shows that his team is changing the perception of the car-buying process and creating lifelong customers at the same time.
“If you exceed the expectations of your customers, hopefully, you can continue to earn their business and develop trust, which is our philosophy,” he says.
After earning a degree in finance from the University of Rhode Island, Alvine began his career in the commercial banking industry. He was part of a group that started Falcon Financial, a joint venture with Goldman Sachs and AIG, which created a new lending model for the automobile industry that allows dealerships to capitalize on the intrinsic value of a franchise.
Several years into his career, he decided to further his education and enrolled at the University of New Haven. “My experiences at UNH tied together what I learned as an undergraduate and what I was experiencing in my career,” says Alvine. “UNH was a great fit for me.”
Not long after finishing his MBA, Alvine decided he wanted to take his career in a different direction. At the same time, the opportunity arose to purchase Premiere Subaru.
“I thought I could apply what I knew from the banking and finance industries to give customers a different feeling,” he says. “Instead of being transactional, our goal is to build friendships. You can’t put a price on these relationships.”
Posted Summer 2011