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Taken from the July 14, 2014 issue of Automotive News:
Sam Raabe was sick of working nights as a bartender, with no direction to his career. So he started selling cars at Kendall Kia in Miami. It was a way for a guy without a college degree to get a good-paying job and advance quickly.
Within a few years, Raabe (pronounced “Robbie”) had risen to finance manager at Honda of Ocala. Now, he’s general sales manager at Brandon Honda, a President’s Award-winning Tampa dealership.
Raabe’s sales tactics require managers to get involved early, “roaming the floor, not sitting at their desks,” greeting customers early in the process. After a test drive, that same manager will handle any price negotiations after the first exchange of numbers. That speeds the deal process greatly, Raabe said.
“When the boss comes out, you know you are near the end of the deal, plus it gives credibility to the deal,” Raabe said. “It’s always the same guy as before the test drive, not some scary new guy.”
Raabe also likes hiring sales staff who have never sold cars before. At his store, 70 percent of the staff is new to car retailing.
“They don’t have bad habits. They only know our process and don’t take shortcuts,” Raabe said. That process includes daily inspections of recent trade-ins and inventory older than 60 days, as well as a daily one-hour training session by a manager to teach employees all facets of the business.
The tactics are working. In the six months of 2012 before Raabe took the general sales manager job,Brandon Honda sold an average of 174 new and 110 used cars a month. In 2013, that soared to 242 new and 151 used sales a month. Profits rose 42 percent.
Brandon Honda also is the top-rated Honda dealer in Florida on DealerRater, scoring a 4.9 out of 5 from more than 1,200 customer reviews, in a cut-throat metro market. There are nine Honda dealers within a 45 minute drive of Brandon Honda and four within 30 minutes.
Raabe is not satisfied. His target is 350 new and 250 used sales a month in 2015, with profits up 25 percent this year and 15 percent next year.
Raabe thanks Brandon managing partner John Marazzi for his mentoring and “never give up” attitude. Marazzi’s best lesson, says Raabe: “No matter how tough it’s going, you can never be afraid of taking risks. You need to take as many risks as possible.”
– Mark Rechtin (taken from Automotive News)
TAGS: Morgan Auto Group, Sam Raabe, Brandon Honda, Honda in Tampa, FL, John Marazzi, Honda of Brandon, Tampa Honda, 40 Under 40, Automotive News, Dealership, Honda Dealerships, Florida
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