Drive Cult talks driving, the future of Porsche and food trucks with Beverly Hills Porsche's voice on Twitter.
If you're a Porsche fanatic and you have a Twitter account, you might know Jay Huffschmidt of Beverly Hills Porsche and not even realise it. He's the personality behind @BevHillsPorsche and his down to earth and often hilarious musings have given him somewhat of a cult status among Porsche-loving Twitterers. It might not be what you'd expect from one of the premier Porsche dealers in the world, but combined with their unique approach to promoting their brand (which includes food trucks and other special events) it has become an extremely effective marketing tool that's engaging and inclusionary for everyone. Jay recently took the time to have a chat with Drive Cult.
Drive Cult: What was you first car?
Jay Huffschmidt: A 1956 Mercedes 300 SL Gull wing. Of course it was a 1/16 scale die-cast model but to me that WAS my first car.
DC: What's your current favorite car in the Porsche lineup?
JH: Great question! It changes daily, I just took a GT3 RS out for a photo shoot and could easily say that was my favorite but when push comes to shove I’d say the Boxster Spyder is my real obsession right now.
DC: Given the increasingly stringent emissions standards that car makers face around the world, where do you see Porsche in, say, 20 years?
JH: During the press launch of the 918 Spyder in Monterey, CA Michael Mauer said, "There were big, big question marks about the future of these types of cars, and therefore as well the future of the Porsche brand ... so therefore we wanted to have this symbol that there is a future." I think Porsche is going to surprise us with unique applications of hybrid systems and it's quite possible we’ll see advances in technologies not even on the radar now. Set your iPhone next to a Motorola Brick from 1991….that's how far we’ve come with electronics, who knows what’s next for automotive.
Video of Michael Mauer talking about the 918
DC: There have been some fairly persistent rumors of a new entry level Porsche that would slot in below the Boxster. From a dealer's perspective, how do you feel that such a car would fit in to the current lineup?
JH: Beverly Hills Porsche sells mostly the higher end of Porsche. The recession hit and our mid engine sales dropped like a hot rock but we consistently sold out of the 911 S on up. We also lead the nation in Panamera S and Panamera Turbo sales. The new Cayenne has also been a massive hit. What will the new entry level sport car will do for us a dealer? I’m not sure it will do anything, but we are excited about the Cajun.
DC: Working at a Porsche dealership in Beverly Hills, you must have pretty regular brushes with fame. Famous Porschephiles such as Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Ralph Lauren come to mind. Any interesting, funny stories about celebrities buying Porsches that you can share?
JH: We have a huge celebrity following and the way we keep them loyal is to keep our mouth shut when it comes to who, what, when and where. However, I occasionally slip up when tweeting…. So if you really want to know you better follow me! @BevHillsPorsche You’ll sometimes have to guess, like the day I tweeted, “We have three of the Expendables on the lot talking politics, boxing and kung fu.”
DC: All of your Twitter followers are dying to know: what's with the food truck obsession?
JH: Obsession? I’d call it a healthy fascination.
The food truck craze started in Los Angeles 30 years ago with the original taco trucks. Up to twice a day a taco truck would stop by our service drive and blast their horn. The garage emptied out and breakfast and lunch was served. The relationship between food truck and car dealer started there.
Last year a few creative chefs started using social media to promote their new and innovative interpretation of the taco truck. I was fascinated with their creative marketing and decided the best way to study their methods was to invite these new trucks onto the lot. From the very first day, Beverly Hills Porsche’s food truck hosting was a hit with the neighboring office workers. We had over three hundred people come to the lot to try the newly opened Grilled Cheese Truck. Over the last year we’ve developed a symbiotic relationship with the trucks. City government officials are making it harder on the trucks to find prime street side parking locations making our lot a sanctuary of sorts. In turn the trucks attract a wonderful variety of people to our dealership.
We are now on a first name basis with many of the people working in the buildings surrounding the dealership. Beverly Hills Porsche has an army of brand ambassadors, folks that recommend us because they know us. I get excited every time a new customer says that he/she came to visit us because someone they knew had lunch with one of my crew.
And to answer the brewing question… YES, we have sold cars as a result of this food truck “obsession”.
DC: If we lived in a bizarro dimension where Porsche didn't exist, what would your dream car be?
JH: BITE YOUR TONGUE! Truth be told, I have and will always be in love with the Ferrari 308 GTSi, in red over tan.
DC: LA is known to have some pretty good driving roads in the surrounding mountains. Any good routes you'd like to share?
JH: Start by taking delivery of your new Porsche at Beverly Hills Porsche. Head south on La Cienega and take the 10 freeway west to PCH north. A few miles up the coast you’ll find Encinal Canyon. Take the canyon road to the top of the mountain and stay left as it turns into Decker Canyon Road. Follow Decker back to PCH and head north again and stop off at Neptune’s Net for a celebratory beer and a pound of peel and eat shrimp. Once you’ve done it you’ll be calling me for more!
DC: Tell us something that people might not know about yourself or Beverly HIlls Porsche.
JH: I’m strangely fascinated by how I’m increasing being introduced to others by my twitter handle instead of my actual name. I guess I should take P-Diddy’s advice and start referring to myself as @BevHillsPorsche.
DC: What's the next big thing for Beverly Hills Porsche?
JH: We’ve managed to secure the number two spot for Porsche sales in the USA. We are up over 68% from 2009’s YTD same store new car sales. Everyone here from sales to parts to service has set their sights on making Beverly Hills Porsche the number one Porsche dealer in the world. I think it's a realistic goal that we can reach sometime in 2011. We’re a dedicated crew of Porsche fans building the family one customer at a time.