Hi, it’s Amy and Shirley from Think Creative.
We’re here today at Flagstaff Buick GMC with Rich. He’s the general sales manager. Hi, Rich. Welcome.
How are you doing today?
Well, thank you for joining us.
Well, I appreciate the opportunity.
So why don’t we just get started by going back to the very beginning and having you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Okay. Well, my name is Rich Beecroft. I’m the general sales manager here. Been here for almost 90 days now. Been in the business for about 24 years. So I’ve spent about 14 years total with General Motors of that career. So I’ve had some experience, obviously, with General Motors. Grew up in northern Arizona. So a small town of about 6,000 people.
So you know this town, of course? You grew up around here.
I do, yeah. So I’ve been in Flagstaff 18 years. But it’s very similar to where I grew up on the White Mountains as far as the type of surrounding areas and stuff like that. So yeah. I’m married, have six kids.
Yeah. I have three boys, three girls.
[crosstalk] even out.
Yeah. I always say, I’m the Mexican Brady Bunch. So…
I was about to say the Brady Bunch.
How did you get started in the car business?
I actually had a career– I played baseball for a while and did some other things growing up. And I got into building homes. And I was building houses in snowstorms. And I remember being three stories high one day, and sliding in the middle of a snowstorm, three stories high.
Oh my God.
Yeah. So I came down for lunch. And first thing I did was I went to the nearest Circle K, grabbed a newspaper, started looking in the classifieds. And I’d seen that they were advertising for a salesperson at a Chevy Cadillac Oldsmobile Subaru store at the time. And I thought I was pretty good with people and stuff. So I figured I would apply for the position. I was interviewed. And lo and behold, they hired me on the spot. And so I started selling cars.
So you’re that impressive for them to hire you on the spot?
That’s a good story.
Yeah. It was pretty neat, because I’d been told before that I actually had the gift of gab. And I love people. I love talking to people and stuff. And I’ve kind of built my entire life around that. So I once had a guy; he had me go escort him and help him with some sales in computers and implementing computers way back in about 1992, I want to say it was. And so I helped him do that. And then, I started talking to the owner and stuff with the schools. And I ended up upselling them a bunch of computers just kind of impromptu. And–
Were you working there?
I was just helping him out.
Oh wow. Okay.
So on the way home, he was pretty quiet. And he goes, “You know, you ought to get into sales sometime.” He goes, “You’re the only person I know that can talk a dead man back to life.”
So you like to naturally help people?
So I do. I do. Yeah. And so–
Yeah. You have that flair for it.
Yeah. So that’s how I got into the car business. And when I started, my first month, I sold 18 and a half cars. And I just kind of had a knack for it. And so I just stuck with it.
Wow. That’s incredible.
How do you think you basically sold 18 cars your first month? And what–
Just honestly, talking to people. I knew nothing about the cars. I knew nothing about the product. Obviously, I was still in the training process of learning about the vehicles. But I figured out real quick that it came down to how you treated people, how you talked to people, how you assisted people. And I wanted nothing more than to help people find the right car that fit their needs. And so it wasn’t about just selling them a car, it was finding the right vehicle that satisfied them and made them happy. And it’s interesting, because the very first car I ever sold was to a couple, Fernando Thompson and his wife. And they just purchased a car from me last week or a couple weeks ago. So here we are 24 years later and the first car I ever sold– I just sold them another recent car. And I’ve sold cars to their family members, relatives, to all their kids who are now married or in college. And so I just have had a real passion for helping and assisting people.
Well, you can see that. Especially when your first car down, they come back after 20 something years. You can definitely see that. For sure.
Yeah. That’s a testament right there.
Yeah. And it’s always been– I’ve always had the philosophy where it’s a place where you can actually take customers and you turn them into friends. And then, you make friends and you turn them into family. So…
I love that.
Well, purchasing a car definitely, it’s a huge deal. You have your home, that’s a huge first huge buyer. And then also purchasing a vehicle.
Yeah. It’s typically your second biggest purchase next to a home.
And so you have to treat customers in that aspect like they are family. And you have to assist them with their wants and their needs. And obviously, there’s always the desire in there as well. But sometimes you have to even tone a customer back and go, this kind of doesn’t fit your budget. And you give that advice to try to help them to keep them in a position where they’re able to come back and continue to see you. And you’re able to help them buy cars down the road, not just sell them one car, but sell them all their cars.
Right. Love that.
So what about Flagstaff Buick GMC? What brought you here?
I had had opportunity previously to come here and work. And things kind of just fell through the wayside and stuff. But I think the biggest factor of me making the final decision to come here was the integrity of Trampus Mansker, the General Motor– he’s the corporate GM of some of the stores in the northern Arizona. But also, I had an opportunity a year and a half ago, at a Hyundai meeting in Las Vegas to meet Michael Martin. And when I met Michael Martin, he really impressed me with his– we kind of shared the same philosophy as far as it being about people, and taking care of people, and doing all you can to assist people. And I learned during middle of my career from an old previous owner who had told me one time that– the best piece of advice he ever could’ve gave me is that it’s all about people. It’s about the people that you work with. It’s about the people that you take care of. It’s about the people that you surround yourself with. And he really shared that same vision–
–and the same morals. Exactly. And so it was a pretty easy thing when I got the second phone call for me to come to work here. It was put together rather quickly. And I’m so thankful that I’m here at Flagstaff Buick GMC. And I’m really thankful I’m a part of the Martin Automotive Group.
Yeah. Sounds like a great group.
Oh yeah. Definitely. For sure.
[crosstalk] go first. Oh, okay. So if a consumer is coming to your store, if they’re going to come here, you’ve kind of given us a little idea that you’re going to treat them well. But what can they expect when they’re coming to purchase a car? What’s that experience like? And what can they expect here?
The biggest factor that I always pay attention to when I am in a new store– and I always spend the first 30 days being very analytical and observing. I like to take a look at the processes. I like to take a look at how things are handled, how customers are being treated. And not just customers on the sales side, but parts customers, service customers, the collision center customers, anyone who comes on the lot. And I do an evaluation, because I’m a very analytical person. And then, I start to implement processes, because, again, it’s all about people. So my biggest thing is I always want them to have the wow experience. I want them to know that whether they’re here for parts, sales, service, or the collision center that we’re here to assist them. No one comes in or on the lot or into the dealership without being greeted by a salesperson or the first person that’s approaching with a smile, a handshake, and a warm welcome. The type of experience we want everyone to have across the board is that they walk into an environment that they feel that they’re welcome to. And when they come inside, I want them to have a warm feeling that they’re actually cared about. That they’re just not another customer or someone that you can try to sell and make money on. I want them to know that they’re as important to us as we are to them.
Well, it’s pretty refreshing. Especially with most of the dealerships out there. It’s refreshing to have more– for a manager to want to have a wow– for the experience for customers– to want to a wow factor and a wow experience. So it’s refreshing.
It is. And you know? I had an opportunity to even speak with some of the service guys, and talk to them, and give them some tidbits and a little bit of advice on how to create that wow experience. And one thing that I always do is if you take the words wow and you turn it upside down, it actually spells mom.
Does it? So if I write the word wow– okay. And if I turn it around, it spells mom. Okay.
It spells mom. And so my mindset has always been, give them the wow experience. And how do you do that? Well, you treat them the way you treat your mom.
Now did you come up with that? Or did you have an old manager that kind of showed you the way?
I kind of came up with– I had heard the wow experience before in trainings and stuff. But then, I was looking at it one day. And I went, wow that spells mom. And who better to give a wow experience to than your own mother? And so if you treat every single customer like it’s your mom– how would you treat your mom? How would you want her to be greeted? If you weren’t there, how would you want someone else to take care of her? How would you want them to treat her in sales, or parts, or service, or collision center? You’d want her to have just an exceptional experience. And so–
That they’re taken care of.
That they’re taken care of.
It’s a rarity to hear something like that. So that’s awesome.
Yeah. And like I said, it truly does come down to people. Nothing happens until people come in. And if we’re not taking care of those people right, well, they’re going to find someone who is going to take care of them properly.
I believe that probably, the customers are just buying from you.
Truthfully speaking, that’s one of the biggest things that you want to happen is. You want customers to purchase from you individually, because they know that they’re getting an honest, integral, and up-front deal. And if we take care of them in that same aspect throughout the entire dealership, and they have that type of feeling and stuff, they’re going to continue to come back. And even more so, they’ll send their friends. They’ll send their family. They’ll send people– their neighbors. And then all of a sudden, that’s how you create that bigger business and that book of business that is sustainable for long term. There’s so many businesses– and not just the car industry– but so many businesses where they’re just worried about making that first sale. They’re just worried about getting that client just one time. Well, that’s good. That’s great that you take care of a customer one time, but it’s another thing when you’re able to take care of them 10, or 15, or 20 times.
Well of course after 20 years, your first customer comes back and follows you.
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s the biggest compliment that you can honestly be paid– is when a customer comes and sees you after 24 years; and then, the next week, sends two of his relatives back in to see you. That’s when you know that you’re really taking care of people.
So at Flagstaff Buick GMC, you’re bringing the wow factor and bringing the experience through the sales department, your service department, the parts department to ensure that they come back and bring their family and friends?
Absolutely. That is the philosophy that we want to have. And that is the exact mindset I want all the salespeople to have and the entire team to have. And truthfully, we have to get 1% better every day. And if we’re moving forward– if we’re moving forward, then it’s always good. I used to always say, “If you’re not green and growing, you’re brown and dying.” And everyone has heard that saying. But it’s about being 1% better every day. And how do you do that? It’s by leading by example as well. So even the upper echelon of management has to give that wow experience and go out so the salespeople see it, and so the service advisers see it. And everyone’s participating in that. And then, it just becomes a culture. And then, it’s just a natural phenomenon that happens. And then you’re just known for doing those types of things. And I’ve tried to create that throughout my entire career. I’ve taken stores over where I’ve gone in, and they’ve had 2.3 stars on Google reviews. And then, a couple years later, the business has double, and you’re at 4.7 or 4.8 stars.
So they have the Rich wow factor. Is that what it is?
Yeah. The Rich wow factor.
Yes! Come experience Flagstaff Buick GMC. Rich’s wow factor!
And I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. And it can’t happen without everyone being on the same page. And it’s neat to see everyone get on the same page. When we get a report card from the manufacturer, CSI, Customer Satisfaction Index. And when I got here, I’d seen it was 720, 767. And now we’re up in the 960s. And–
In a short amount of time.
Yeah. That’s a fast turnaround. Yeah.
It is. And it’s just about taking care of people. If you do that, all a sudden, you start to see those report cards go up, and the better grades, and the better scoring. And people can see that for themselves. And even when we talk to every single customer, we tell them, talk to us about your experience, go on Google, go on Yelp. Give us a review.
So you’re being transparent.
You’re not trying to hide anything or any of that.
And we don’t lead them. We don’t tell them, hey, you need to go and do this. We want their true feelings. Why do we want their true feelings? Because if it wasn’t a 100% perfect experience, I want to know why, so that we can fix that, so we can grow from that, so we can move forward from that. It’s all about moving forward.
And getting the wow factor.
Getting the wow factor. And that’s what we’re trying to do here at Flagstaff Buick GMC– is create that wow factor.
Well, that’s great. What can a buyer do to prepare for purchasing a vehicle? What can they do on their own to get ready for that big investment?
There’s so many things at the fingertips of the buyer now. With the internet, there’s so many different resources where they can actually go and feel confident and comfortable. At Flagstaff Buick GMC, we’re so transparent that we put our CARFAXes on all our vehicles right online. We want them to see that. We have the VIN numbers. We have pricing upfront. We want them to be able to see everything there. But a good way to do that is to obviously do some research on their own. And they can go on Edmunds.com, and they can pull our VIN numbers, they can pull a pricing sheet. And they’ll see how truly competitive we are with our pricing. And that’s just a piece of the puzzle. But we put quality vehicles out there. We spend more money on our pre-owned vehicles than the typical dealerships do, because we want our cars to stand tall. We want them to be out there. And we want them to be safe. And we want them to look great. And we want them to be everything that they want to have. Because, again, it’s their second biggest purchase. It’s easy on the new-car side, because they’re new cars. And our pricing is so competitive that we’re probably the number one priced– as far as our vehicles are priced, we’re number one in the marketplace. But the used cars is where we really set ourselves apart as well.
So what’s the difference between a new car and a pre-owned car, you said?
New cars, obviously, are straight from the manufacturer. They’ve never been driven from anyone else. They’ve never been titled by anybody else. Low miles typically or very low miles. Teens. Full-factory warranties and stuff. Well, we want our used and pre-owned vehicles to kind of look similar to the new. So that’s why we go out of our way to run them through such a hefty inspection through our shop. And we’ve got master mechanics that are always taking a look at these vehicles and they’re really bringing us a list of things that they highly recommend we fix. And very seldom do we say no to those things. Because it’s more important for us to take a smaller margin on the vehicle and a less profit, if you will, and have a customer satisfied with a quality vehicle that they’re not having issues with. So that when they do come back, they want to see us.
Well, the main thing is to get them to come back.
So we would advise, maybe, a pre-own is more affordable? Or do you also get some type of incentive on a new car?
Yeah. New cars obviously come with manufacturers’ incentives. But on the used-car side, we also offer some great coverages in our finance department. We’ve got extended warranty coverage. We’ve got gap insurance that protects the loan if anything was ever to happen. It protects the consumer, protects the bank. And it’s a good thing as well, because then, when they’re fully protected, if anything was to happen, they don’t have to worry about this large, out-of-pocket expense to cover that loan that they no longer have, but they still owe money on.
Right. It’s when they get in a car accident, is that what it is?
Correct. Any car accident, or theft, or any [crosstalk] like that. If the vehicle is ever stolen and it’s unrecoverable, then insurance will only pay a certain portion. And when we offer the products we do, it’s able to cover the entirety of the loan. And so that way, it doesn’t put them in a financial burden. And that way–
Do they receive a check? Or…
What it does is it’ll pay the remainder of the loan off. But…
Oh gotcha. Okay.
Well, Rich, we really appreciate the time you’ve given to us today.
And just to–
Thanks for helping us out.
Yeah. Just to wrap things up, let’s just ask– you’ve already touched on this quite a bit, but why should customers come to Flagstaff Buick GMC?
If you truly want to feel welcomed and see what family and what an experience like we’ve been talking about– the wow experience– is about, you won’t get that anywhere but Flagstaff Buick GMC. I promise you, visit any of the Martin Automotive Group stores and you will experience that wow experience. So I invite everyone to come in. See it for yourself.
Come see the wow factor.
You’ve been challenged. All right. Thank you much.
Podcast Episode 1: Flagstaff Buick GMC General Sales Manager