Car Dealer Does Spring, Winter, Fall, Summer Training

David Ferraez wants to improve auto retailing one instructional session after another.

Lillie Guyer, Correspondent

September 30, 2015

5 Min Read
Employee training ldquosets us apartrdquo Ferraez says
Employee training “sets us apart,” Ferraez says.

David Ferraez relocated from Memphis to New Jersey to become an auto dealer in his own right. He’s not singing the blues about that move. 

He has operated Green Brook Buick, GMC and Mitsubishi in Green Brook, NJ, since 1999. In 2013, he added Bridgewater Chevrolet, five miles away in Bridgewater, NJ, calling Chevy the “big-dog” franchise of General Motors.

“Our customer philosophy is simple. Take good care of customers and be grateful for them,” he says. “Our employee philosophy is exactly the same.” 

That view has led Green Brook to become the No.1 sales leader for his GM brands in the automaker’s competitive Northeast region that includes the New York metro market and 13 states. The store ranks No.279 on the WardsAuto Dealer 500.

Ferraez financed the GM side of his business with help from GM Motors Holding. “Those dealerships were under-performing in a very populated market,” he says. “Over the next few years, we grew to become the largest (in sales).”

This year he is investing $4 million to upgrade the Chevrolet facility, based on GM’s image program.

His two sons, Bryan and Joshua, also moved from Memphis to be part of the dealer management team. Older son Bryan manages the Chevrolet operation, along with his cousin Chad Ferraez.

Joshua is the general sales manager of the Buick-GMC group. David Ferraez’s brother Stan Ferraez is the used-car manager. His sister Laurie Ferraez is finance director. David’s wife, Ginger, is his closest supporter.

Fortunately his family has remained with him and “are very important to the success of our operations,” he says.

The Mitsubishi dealership is run by Mike Greco, a senior sales manager.

Ferraez began his dealership work in 1978 as a  salesman at Gary Davis Chevrolet in Columbus, MS. He became sales manager and then general manager. He then went to Memphis to join Bud Davis Cadillac. He spent 15 years there as general sales manager, general manager and vice president.

He believed then and now that training focused on sales processes and product knowledge makes a difference. “It sets us apart. Many dealers talk training, but we actually do it six days a week.”

He says he’s trying to combat an industry problem of inadequately trained salespeople. “Our focus is to out-work, out-train, and out-sell our competitors. This means we treat our sales department as an athletic team. Most athletic teams practice far more than they play. 

“Our industry is the opposite, in general, playing more than practicing and training. I have never been satisfied with that.”

Training extends beyond the front-end operation. “GM has (updated) service training that we take advantage of consistently,” Ferraez says. 

He believes a goal of the industry should be to keep improving the talent pool of salespeople and technicians.

He says the average income of a car salesperson should be about $100,000 to attract well-qualified college graduates. “It’s important to drive up salary and the image of our salespeople. We’re on the bandwagon to fix the larger problem, and not just put Band-Aids on it.”

The dealerships use a GM customer-relationship management software system and training tools to keep close contact with customers and prospects.

“We have a common dealer management system for both stores and use common accounting processes to keep our overhead manageable,” Ferraez says.  “Our managers use CRM tools in sales to develop business relationships.”

Other customer-communication channels are e-mail, phone and texting.  The service groups use GM’s Customer Sales Service Retention (CSSR) program. Ferraez calls it “one incredible tool, if used properly.” 

One reason the metro region is so competitive is its large number of dealers.

“We are very over-dealered in our area so there is a lot of pressure to sell and deliver vehicles when the customer visits the store,” Ferraez says. 

Green Brook itself comprises about 5,000 people, so the dealerships draw most of their business from the higher-density metro areas of Newark and New York to the east.

“We advertise heavily in a 20-mile (32-km) radius,” Ferraez says. “There are about 2 million people within the 20 miles, with approximately 14 other Buick-GMC dealers in the market.”

By comparison, “in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, there are 8 million people and seven dealerships like this.”

As a Hispanic-American, Ferraez is active in several minority dealer groups and associations. 

Sponsored by Ally


Life-and-Death Situation

The recession of 2008 and 2009 hurt the auto industry in general and GM in particular. The automaker suspended leasing, went into bankruptcy, restructured with government aid and shed its Pontiac and Hummer brands. It affected Ferraez.

 “It was a life-or-death situation,” he recalls. “In business, you do whatever you have to do to stay alive. We had to reinvent our business plan almost overnight.”  He was forced to lay off 50 employees in 30 days and asked five sales managers to return to the sales floor so the business could survive.

“It was quite a shock to hear we were losing both Hummer and our Pontiac brand, with which we did quite well. We were top 10 in the nation with both of them and losing them was a real wake-up call. We were leasing almost 80% of our new vehicles and we lost leasing at the same time.”

Ferraez had recently purchased Hummer and Suzuki franchises. Both were gone. About 3,000 off-lease customers moved on to other brands in an area that is the nation’s largest lease market.

Things are brighter these days.

“In 2014, our Buick GMC store did about $106 million in sales and about 1,700 new vehicles,” Ferraez says. “In our first year, the Chevy store did about $50 million in sales and about 1,000 new vehicles, up from 450 the year before.

The four-franchise operation expects to sell 3,200 vehicles this year.

He likes GM products and the direction the automaker is headed.

“We have great leadership now in GM that seems to have the burning desire to build a great company,” he says. “GM was a good company years ago that ended up a bad-and-broke company.  Now they have the potential to become a great company.”

Company Profile

Dealer principal: David Ferraez, dealer principal

Dealerships: Green Brook Buick, GMC and Mitsubishi and Bridgewater Chevrolet in New Jersey.

Awards: Include GM Dealer of the Year nine times, Mark of Excellence Leaders of Distinction 16 times, Hummer Master Dealer.

Board memberships: Include Buick GMC Dealer Council, General Motors Minority Dealer Assn., Minority Dealer Advisory Council Board and National Dealer Council and others.

WardsAuto Dealer Business Ranking: No.279


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