As the coronavirus pandemic speeds up the trend of more vehicle sales shifting from the dealership lot to the computer, local used car giant CarMax is investing more resources into its call centers.
The Goochland-based Fortune 500 announced last week it would hire more than 750 employees to staff its Customer Experience Centers, customer contact centers that help facilitate car sales over the phone and online. Two hundred of those new employees will be based locally in the center at the company’s headquarters at West Creek Business Park.
Plans to increase staffing of the company’s five customer contact centers – the others are located in Raleigh, Kansas City, Atlanta and Phoenix – had been in the works prior to the pandemic as part of CarMax’s push to make car sales easier on customers whether they buy in-store, from home or a combination of the two.
But the pandemic has added urgency to that trend.
“We recognized the current environment has accelerated the shift in consumer buying behavior,” CarMax CEO Bill Nash said during a Q1 investors call in June. “Customers are seeking safety, personalization and convenience now more than ever in how they shop for and buy a vehicle.”
The company would not disclose how much it is investing in the expansion.
The buildup of the Richmond center won’t require new space to be added to the company’s 235,000-square-foot headquarters, CarMax spokeswoman Jennifer Bartusiak said in an email. The plan is to fill the ranks of the new local complement by the end of September. The local center opened late last year.
Prior to this new hiring effort, CarMax had about 1,400 employees at its contact centers, and the new hires will increase that segment of its workforce by 55 percent. Of the new positions outside of the local area, 150 will be based in Kansas City, 15 in Raleigh, 230 in Atlanta and 175 in Phoenix.
The hiring spree comes several months after CarMax furloughed more than 15,000 employees and temporarily closed or limited operations at about half of its 225 stores due to the economic disruptions of the pandemic. The company also launched a contactless curbside car pickup program.
By the end of this month, CarMax won’t have any associates on furlough, and “approximately 99 percent” of the associates who were furloughed will have been offered the chance to come back to work. All stores have reopened, Bartusiak said.
CarMax reported $3.2 billion in net sales and operating revenue, and net earnings of $5 million, in Q1. During the same period last year, the company reported $5.4 billion in net sales and operating revenue, and $266.7 million in net earnings.