As I write this, I’m enjoying a little bit of downtime from the recent busy weeks at the office and the rush of the holiday season, and reflecting on the past year at AutoSuccess. I also wanted to take a moment to touch base with you, our readers (and podcast listeners), to thank you for your loyalty over the years.
Running any business is a stressful but rewarding experience when you’re doing it right. From what I’ve heard from you, so many of you are doing it right. I’m always impressed and inspired by the dealers we talk to for our feature articles and our Success Stories. Everyone has his or her own unique stories and we hope by reading them, you gain some insight on how to make your dealership the business you dreamed of building and the place where your employees enjoy coming to work.
Some of the stories from this past year that stood out in my mind include:
Evelyn Chatel, who, in 1967, along with her mother and young brother, escaped communist Cuba on one of the historic Freedom Flights that transported Cubans to Miami. Coincidentally — or was it? — Chatel much later became an owner of a dealership called Freedom Auto Group in Pennsylvania.
This unique auto group offers no-negotiation-needed upfront car pricing and employs “Life Improvement Specialists,” not salespeople. These specialists are not paid commission, but earn salaries based on how well they serve customers, challenging the typical automotive dealership customer experience.
Another one that comes to mind is Rocky Mount Toyota in Rocky Mount, NC, where General Manager Brent Mattingly helped resurrect a dealership that had been running in the red with old processes and no leadership.
“When we first took over the store, there were 50 employees, and there were 50 different processes … We came in and streamlined everything.”
Mattingly also knew that investing in training his people would make a huge difference in both the store’s profitability and his team’s personal and professional development and enjoyment of their work.
Mattingly and his team have not only stopped the financial bleeding but were on track to be in the black to the tune of seven figures by the end of the year.
Nikkole Daya’s story stood out when we learned she started with Morehead Honda in Newburgh, NY, in the BDC department, and as her skills grew and the dealership started seeing the potential of selling cars from the service lane, the dealership formed a new position for her: equity consultant.
“They made this position for me, which involved data mining and using equity tools,” Daya said. Learning about the process by attending webinars and trying to see what would work, Daya started to build a presence.
She found great success by simply informing potential sales customers of their options. “A lot of times, when people are not really educated about the car business, they find out they can get a really good deal,” she said. “I get so much gratification when people realize they can upgrade to a nicer vehicle when they weren’t even thinking about it in the first place. It’s a great sense of accomplishment.”
And finally, the nearby competition that Vandergriff Hyundai, in Arlington, TX, faces, seemed daunting, but Ryan Rios, general sales manager, found a way for the dealership to stand out from the competition to get the consumer’s attention.
“We have, just on this access road alone, a Mitsubishi dealership and a Ford dealership, and then one more exit down, another Ford dealership along with a Jeep/Dodge/Ram dealership and a Kia dealership.” Vandergriff Hyundai’s sister Acura, Honda and Toyota dealerships are also near Rios’ store. “So, there are quite a few new car franchises in this area,” Rios said. “The Dallas/Fort Worth market is very competitive. We have at least 18 Hyundai stores in our area.”
Rios knew that, with this level of competition, his store needed to keep on top of its marketing efforts and customer service dynamics. Those efforts, both what goes on inside the store and the messages it sends out to customers, had to be effective and efficient, and they are paying off for the dealership.
“One of our main strengths is that we just outwork everybody,” he said. “Our store, on average, will make between 9,000 and 11,000 calls per month.” That effort, he said, gets his store noticed by those in the market for a vehicle. When his store makes the calls that the others don’t, it’s an advantage that’s difficult to overcome.
So my challenge for you now is, think ahead one year from now. What is your 2019 Success Story? If you were writing it right now, what would you want it to say about your dealership’s accomplishments in 2019? We’d love to hear what you have to say.
To read our past Success Stories, click HERE