Frank Carrasquillo, General Sales Manager, Mercedes-Benz of Naples
January 2014 Autobytel Dealer of the Month
We'd like to congratulate Frank Carrasquillo, General Sales Manager at Mercedes-Benz of Naples, Florida for being named Autobytel's Dealer of the Month for January 2014.
The Autobytel Dealer Awards Program honors exceptional dealers from a competitive field of thousands of automotive retailers who employ the highest standards in customer service, Internet automotive retail sales and lead management processes.
We recently talked with Frank about the way he and his staff focus on developing successful relationships with their clients - new and repeat business, and client referrals - to be named a Mercedes-Benz BEST OF THE BEST dealer three out of the last four years.
Tell us about yourself and your store. What is your official title, what brands do you sell and what are your primary markets?
My name is Frank Carrasquillo and I'm the General Sales Manager of Mercedes-Benz of Naples, Florida. I was a salesperson here seven years ago, moved to the position of BDC manager in eight months, then to the position of manager a year later, and new car sales manager a year after that. Three years ago, I was named GSM. We service a broad territory of the southwest Florida market, from Sarasota down to Marco. We've been successful by being fair and upfront in our pricing structure. I had no auto experience when I started and I wanted to pay that forward by giving others with no auto backgrounds the ability to truly wow our clients. We do this by hiring customer oriented associates with backgrounds in everything other than the auto business and we provide constant training. I conduct all the training here, and we work hard at it daily with one-on-one sessions and with group sessions on a weekly basis.
How long have you been an Autobytel dealer and what do you think are the primary benefits of being on the Autobytel program?
We've been an Autobytel dealer for seven years. The primary benefits of the program are high quality leads, as well as easy access to software and our Autobytel representatives.
What do you think makes you so successful at meeting the needs of today's Internet consumers? Please share a few of your best practices in terms of managing Internet leads.
We meet the needs of our clients by fully evaluating a lead and understanding what the client is asking for. If a person asks for price, we give it to them in the first communication with our best offer upfront. If it makes sense, we move forward and if it doesn't, we offer alternative options or a pre-owned or lesser equipped model. In the end, it saves them - and us - time. We don't want to chase someone that has our best offer and doesn't want to move forward, and we don't hound or inundate clients with generic emails trying to get them to come into our dealership. The bottom line is, we might not always tell clients what they want to hear, or give them the price they had hoped for, but we explain things very clearly by telling them the "why" and the "how" and at that point, by giving them the decision to join our team with a full understanding.
What are your thoughts about being named an Autobytel Dealer of the Month?
We are greatly honored. We know Autobytel has many choices of dealers in its program, and to have chosen us speaks volumes with all of the stores in its portfolio.
What are some tips or advice you would give other retailers when it comes to effectively managing Internet customers?
Our store went under new ownership seven years ago and we took on the mentality that we had to really win clients back by letting them know there was a dealer here who really cared. The prior ownership had the mentality that our clients should be grateful we allowed them in the door, while we feel we're the lucky ones for them to have graced us with their trip to our showroom - both physically and virtually. We show our clients we feel this way by giving them what they're asking for. Forget old school sales tactics. No matter how you slice it, this a people-oriented business and if you understand what the person on the other side of the lead is asking for, you will be the one to win them as client - not only today but in the future. Finally, don't get caught up in chasing the next lead. We forget that Internet leads and deliveries have friends and families too. I think many dealers treat the Internet so differently, they forget to teach their teams to work the database as a bricks and mortar associate would, from a repeat referral aspect.
What are your general thoughts about the auto industry right now? How are sales? Any interesting things happening at Mercedes-Benz of Naples or with the brand that you'd like to share?
Sales are great. Every month, we are breaking the last year-over-year records. The industry is strong and growing, with technology being more widely accepted as a tool instead of a crutch, or something that hurts our business. Mercedes-Benz has tremendous products that have been launched or scheduled to be launched, like the all-new 2014 S550. We were Mercedes-Benz's number one S-Class dealer in the nation because we had the foresight to buy the last of the 2013s when the body was changing. For six consecutive months, we sold 30 S-Class models each month and when the new body came out, we received 27 while our nearest competitor only received four. It made for an exciting time, and we see it happening again with the new CLA and the soon-to-be GLA. We're also excited to have just won the prestigious Best of the Best Award, which is given to the top 5% of Mercedes-Benz dealers in the nation. We've won this award two years in a row, and three of the last four. It's a great award since consumers and the factory help decide who receives it.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself...what do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies or interests of note?
I love to work. If I didn't have a 9-year-old daughter, I would probably be here 90 hours a week instead of the 60 to 70 hours I spend now. We have a great team that I genuinely enjoy spending time with and the clients we get to meet are like no one else in the world - from famous athletes to the guy from Ohio who built his own business from a dream he had when he was a kid, or the single mom who raised three kids herself and now it's time for her to spoil herself for a change with her dream car. It's so much fun to come in and deliver a level of luxury people have come to expect. Personally, when I'm not here, I spend as much time as I can with my wife and daughter. Our daughter is very active with basketball and theater so when I have free time, it's usually spent running her off to rehearsal or basketball practice where I am an assistant coach. Sports were always a passion of mine, but family comes first and Mercedes-Benz of Naples comes second, so sports has moved to third place. When I can squeeze in an hour or two of alone time, I'll watch whatever sporting event is on that day, preferably football, basketball, and baseball in that order.
Each month, Autobytel's sales and dealer operations teams evaluate prospective candidates from a competitive field of thousands of automotive retailers in the Autobytel network, with a monthly finalist selected based on key online automotive best practices, including conversion rates, lead management processes, customer service principles, customer and brand retention analytics and Internet department practices, among others.