John Barr, general manager of Findlay Toyota in Henderson, Nevada, comes from a rock-and-roll background. Before he got into the automotive business, he worked with music stars such as Sammy Hagar and Ozzy Osbourne. And now he’s a rock star, managing a successful automotive retailer and being named the Leukemia and Lymphoma Man of the Year for his fundraising efforts. As part of Cars.com’s “Connecting on the Road to NADA” partnership with CBT Automotive Network, John talked with to share how Findlay Toyota rocks the automotive business. Here are his rules for success:
- Listen to your customers. “God gave you one mouth and two ears for a reason,” he said. “You are supposed to listen to the customer. The customer will tell you how to sell a car. To be good in this business, you have to be a psychologist with a mathematical aptitude.”
- Nurture your people. “We’ve made a strong, strong attempt to make the environment conducive to selling cars,” he said. “We treat all our people well. I am here all the time. So, I create the culture. I train people to treat people like the way I like them to treat me.”
- Use the right tools. He indicated that Findlay Toyota is a heavy user of the DealerRater.com reviews platform including the LotShot feature, which dealerships use to snap photos of happy customers upon delivery of their vehicles and have the photos featured in their personal reviews. “Word of mouth is everything,” he said. “All our salespeople have the capability to use DealerRater. Our ratings have gone up. Customers like it, too. People see that we are a fun place to visit, and they talk about us. We tend to retain those people.” He indicated that LotShot is valuable because “You can personalize the experience and bring people onboard, and the salesperson enjoys the experience. The customer shares those pictures as well — and with word of mouth being as important as it is, it helps us grow our business.”
- Choose the right partner. John believes in complementing his operations with strong partners such as Cars.com. “We have found nothing but great things with Cars.com,” he said. They have helped us a lot with all the things we do through digital. Our Internet department sells 250 cars a month through leads. They brush a broad stroke across lots of different areas and have become a big part of what we do.”
- Be involved in the community. One of the major advantages a brick-and-mortar business has over a digital operation: community involvement. “We are really well known in Las Vegas,” he said, noting that the dealership is actively involved in local charities, as evidenced by his Man of the Year award. Those actions keep the dealerships connected to the community
- Keep learning. “This business is evolving; things change every hour,” he said. “Cars are changing vis a vis the electric car. We like getting the insight of what is coming. The NADA Show should be ahead of the curve and give us insight into what is coming down the road.”
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