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Thursday, 26 January 2012 21:18

South Motors Automotive Group—Anything But Apathetic

Written by Larry Williams
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This month’s distinctive dealer is South Motors Automotive Group in Miami, Florida. This dealer services Honda, BMW, VW, Suzuki, Mazda, Mini, and Infiniti. Parts manager Mike Franceschi contacted me after reading my article on “Apathy, the Real Opponent in the Wholesale Business.”

For a link to the article see the last paragraph or just go to autobodynews.com and search ‘apathy’ What I wrote in that article was:

“Now is the time to be positive. Shake off that dull, negative attitude. Aggressive solicitation of new customers will pay off for those dealers that move now. Take some time and visit your best customers. Congratulate them for their tenacity and tell them you will be with them for the good times ahead. Partners who survive hard times always find their bonds stronger. Keep an eye out for customer opportunities that you may have overlooked. Be ready to serve the new customers that will be calling you.
“There is another major negative assumption to overcome. Several parts managers have told me of their loss of interest in the wholesale market. The main reason for this is the lack of profit. It seems that there is constant pressure to reduce costs, starting at the corporate level. I am talking about the insurance companies that cover most of today’s repair costs. In a never-ending search for investor earnings, quality, care, workmanship, and pride are considered to be unnecessary. The only thing that matters to these corporations is their bottom line. They constantly push the repair shop to reduce the cost of the repairs. The shops cannot reduce their labor cost any lower; employees are already at the poverty level. The only place to cut is the cost of materials. The solution for some shops is the use of cheaper parts. These shops adopt the practices of the corporations, and consider only the cost of materials. Save a dollar, no matter what method you use.
“We need to fight back! Quality in both parts and service needs to be worth more than a 5% discount. For example, sheet metal has been a center of concern for several years. Cheap replacement imported metal has found customers, at the cost of quality. Numerous organizations have come out to support the use of original parts only. We all agree on the value of quality in this area. How about the rest of the operation? How about quality of service?
“I have never advocated sacrificing service and quality for cost. I believe if you pay less, you get less. There is a minimum everyone must pay for quality service. The competition should be for better service, not cheaper prices. I believe that servicing the wholesale market is still a rewarding job. Our final goal, happy customers, is a worthy goal and customer satisfaction brings us our own happiness.”

Mike shared the article with his countermen, and was pleased to be able to say to them: “I’m not the only one who talks about this every day!” This comment, in my opinion, is the key to understanding Mike’s success in these troubled times. He talks to his men every day, encouraging them and keeping their spirits high.

There are four full time wholesale countermen, Ozzie, Rudy, Alex, and Danny. Professional, knowledgeable men, with more than a hundred years of experience available to their customers! This team keeps five drivers constantly on the road. Belinda, Carlos, Jose, Luis and Noel make three runs daily, and will go as far as sixty miles to service their customers. An inventory of over half a million dollars ensures “on hand” status of fast moving parts. A daily ordering system means needed parts are almost always available the next morning.

Body shops in this area have had a hard time the last few years, but sales at this dealership have held steady, and even increased slightly despite the recession. Collision Link is used by this dealer, of course. This program allows Mike to be competitive on pricing, ensuring repairs are always made with quality, original parts. Every dealer I have talked to mentions Collision Link as one of their most valuable tools in the wholesale market.

Mike has been at South Motors for twenty years, fifteen of them as parts manager. He says his “secret to success” is his focus on sales. His office is near the front counter, and he talks to his customers as often as possible. He watches his daily sales, staying on top of his business with his friends. He calls one or two each day, checking to make sure he has filled their orders properly, and that they are satisfied with his service.

Mike takes his job very personally, and talked to me about the value of long term relationships, and the feeling of “family”, not just customers. He spoke about trust, sincerity, and respect. He spoke of service over price, wanting happy customers, and close partnerships with valued customers.

These philosophies, of service, and partnership are common to all the successful managers I have talked with in the last year. They all consider their customers as friends, and make price a minor condition to the business of auto repair.

I believe that success is not determined by a building, a location, advertising, or price. Success is a reward to those people who want it, work for it, and are never stopped. Mike Franceschi is successful because his desire to be the best knows no boundaries.

I recommend this distinctive dealer to any auto body shop in the Miami area that wants the best service available. You can do no better than the South Motors Automotive Group.

You can read Larry’s apathy article online in its entirety at:
http://www.autobodynews.com/columnists/williams-larry/item/5198-apathy-the-real-opponent-in-the-wholesale-parts-business.html.

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