Hi. It’s Amy and Shirley from Think Creative.
We’re here at Flagstaff Buick GMC with Tommy. He’s the floor manager here. Hi, Tommy.
How are you doing today?
Thank you so much for joining us. Okay. So let’s get started right at the very beginning. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in this industry.
Originally from Roswell, New Mexico. Grew up in the white mountains. Graduated, married, three kids.
How old are they, if you don’t mind me asking?
26, 22, and 14. And two grandbabies now.
One, and one week and one day. So eight days old.
Eight days old. Oh, we love babies. Girl? Boys?
Weston is a boy, obviously, and Evelyn was born November 11th, and that’s the first girl in four generations.
Oh my gosh.
Evelyn, very pretty.
That’s your heart. She must have your heart.
Oh, goodness gracious.
Is it different now? Is it different having kids and also a grandbaby? Having a grandbaby is probably completely different.
Of course. And everyone tells you there is nothing like having a grandbaby.
There is nothing like it. I agree.
And you’re like, that’s impossible [inaudible] your own. Nope, believe what I say. It’s the best.
Exactly. I agree. Well, thank you for sharing that with us. So how did you get started in this industry? What is it about cars?
I’ve been in property management about 20 years.
So I did conventional and then student housing, I did [inaudible] [work?], affordable housing, section eight, the full spectrum of that. And then Rich–
Which I believe he’s the general–
Yeah, right. So my general manager came to me, he approached me. I don’t even think he asked me. I think he told me, “Hey, one day I need you to start selling cars.”
How did you guys meet? Where?
I’ve known Rich my whole life.
Yeah, we moved to Heber, Arizona.
A long time ago.
Yeah. He was right there, so.
Since we were five and six.
Oh, since five and six. Okay.
Yeah, that’s amazing. That’s a lifelong friendship. Yeah.
So obviously he’s been in the car industry–
Yeah. So I bought pretty much all my cars through Rich.
So we’ve always had a brotherhood if you will, so.
Yeah. Yeah. And then he was like, “I need you to sell cars.” And you were like, “Okay.”
So how was it like selling your first car with him?
It was a funny story. It took me four days. I think I was going to quit twice, the first day. I was given terrible advice from the floor salespeople at the time, and then my first sale I ended up selling two that day.
Your first sale.
Did you have to learn any products? How did you sell your first two cars?
They told me, “You’ll be selling yourself. In this industry you sell yourself.” And I said, “Well, I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in, like, 48 states [laughter].” I’m sure it is. I know it somewhere, it’s illegal. But I didn’t understand that, and then it’s the same thing as property management. Listen and they’ll tell you. If you listen and you know your product you’ll be fine.
What was your first two cars that you sold? Do you remember it?
I do. It was a 2014 Ford F150. It was [lifted?]. And my second one, I want to say, it was a Chevy Impala.
Of course, you’re always going to have to– you always remember your first car deal.
And then there’s my story I want to share real quick, Rich calls me up like two weeks ago, two or three weeks ago. He goes, “I have somebody coming in. I need you to take care of them.” I said, “Absolutely, boss. I gotcha.” He’s like, “They’re VIP. ” He goes, “They are my very first sale when I got into the industry in ’94.” I said, “You’ve got to be kidding.” I mean, for one I was honored. I was absolutely honored.
Yeah. Definitely. Yeah.
So they came in. I talked to them.
Where? Here at Flagstaff Buick GMC?
Yes. Yeah, like three weeks ago. Yeah. So they have always purchased from Rich from day one. So–
So it seems like he’s probably a good manager, a good person in the car industry, and for somebody to– for him to sell his first car deal and then they actually found him here at Flagstaff Buick GMC.
Yeah, they buy every two years from him.
Every two years.
Every two years.
Wow, that’s incredible. Yeah.
[The mom?], yeah. So they came and we sold them a truck and I mean it was raining that day. And people are looking like, “Why is he washing this car in the rain?’ Helped him [inaudible] the detail [inaudible].
I pulled inside the bay, service bay. And I detailed it and I Armor Alled it.
You detailed it yourself?
Well, good for you.
So I brought it through from financing through the hallway back there. I actually just got the picture. It was great. So I took a picture with Rich and them and yeah. It was really cool.
It was a memorable moment for you to assist with this first car deal.
Roma and yeah.
And then maybe hopefully one of– another salesman or whatnot that you can assist with that. That’s memorable for sure.
Yeah. That’s a great story.
Isn’t that neat?
Yeah. I love that.
Yeah. I was blown away.
Yeah. That tells us a little bit about what Flagstaff Buick GMC is about and the people that work here, so that’s incredible. So let’s say I’m a customer. I’m coming in and I want to buy a car. First of all, why should I consider one of the vehicles you have there? What’s great about them?
We have a great selection. GMC Dealer puts out a great product. They just do. They stand behind it. They back it. And then it starts from the bottom up. I mean, from your sales consultant, your sales professional to your F&I. Our service department retains a ton of customers. They’re phenomenal. They really are. [Martin?] and everybody.
Now do– go ahead. Sorry.
No. Go ahead.
Now, do you only sell Buick GMC? Is that what you have here at this store, or?
We have pre-owned vehicles as well, and then we can pull from our other dealerships as well. Mercedes-Benz and Lake Powell Ford.
So you can sell other vehicles.
Pre-owned. Yeah. Obviously, the new would be delivered there so. Yeah.
We’ve got a great selection and great communication. There’s never any kind of reservations for us to switch out a vehicle with Mercedes or vice versa so it’s always great. No butting heads or nothing, just fluff, yeah.
So Flagstaff Buick GMC also has a sister store. You said Mercedes and also Lake Powell. Correct?
Okay. And these stores that are part of Martin automotive group?
Yes, ma’am. And Mercedes-Benz of Flagstaff will be officially grand opening this Friday.
So will you be attending that?
I will be [laughter].
I will be.
That’s great. So if I’m coming in to buy a car, what can I expect? What’s the process going to be like?
You’re coming in. You’ll be greeted. You’ll see a ton of movement energy most of the time [laughter].
You said earlier a selection of cars and then so when you arrive to the showroom floor, is there a salesman to help guide, assist with the car?
Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So they’ll come in, you’ll get greeted by one of our sales professionals, and it’s no pressure. That’s another thing I learned. I mean, our customers, they need a friend, and in this day and age customers are going to know more about that product than–
–a majority of the salesmen out there, yeah. They are. They’re going to research at least 15 times before pulling the trigger.
Correct. So most of the time they probably know what type of car selection they want to choose. Do they have the opportunity to go maybe test drive the vehicles to envision if that vehicle is right for them?
Absolutely. Exactly. All-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, packages. Do they want the leather or they want– they’re not into the bells and whistles.
And then you would probably assist them with their experience with the vehicle and experience on how you can assist them maybe investing in that purchase, correct?
Exactly. Yeah, they want to know what you know. They want to know everything about that vehicle. And you better know everything about that vehicle [laughter].
So at Flagstaff Buick GMC, do you have to take some type of product testing?
Yes. All the time. We’re always being updated on our certifications.
Your certifications. So all the time you have to do your certifications on learning about the product of the vehicle, trim level.
And it’s GM. It’s just not GMC Buick, it’s Cadillac, Chevy, Buick, and GMC. So it’s all four.
It is [laughter]. I just got done finishing 86 tests.
86 tests for the year? For the month?
Last two weeks.
The last two weeks?
Do you have to do that– how often do you have to take the testing? Maybe once a year?
No. It’s quarterly.
Yeah. On top of briefings and seminars, they’ll have live seminars and stuff like that, so.
So you guys are at Flagstaff–
And then we have– yes, we have our sales reps also come in and– once a month and we’ll pick a– well, they’ll have a selected model that they’re going to butterfly and do a product–
Which is more of like a walk-around on the vehicle–
It really is, yeah.
–and show you how to– new features of the vehicle and educate you guys on that.
Yes. Yeah. They’re wonderful. They are great.
Nice, so you guys are fully trained at Flagstaff Buick GMC.
Okay. You’re going to be able to help with that vehicle decision and purchase.
So what makes you, Tommy, stand out from the other sales professionals here [laughter]?
Is that your face?
No, I’m sorry [laughter].
You tell us.
It’s the tattoos [laughter].
Okay. So yes, so if you can–
It would be the years of experience of customer service. I’ve always been detailed about that.
What does customer service mean to you?
The customer’s needs first.
Okay. Whatever they need, you’re just there to assist them. Is that pretty much it?
That’s a lot. That’s a huge task to take on.
Yeah. Well and you got to deal with– I mean, you genuinely want to do it. You can’t, “Yeah let me get this for you.” That’s not going to fly.
So it sounds like it comes from the heart.
Yeah, it has to be. They’ll know. And so I’ve always lived by is people don’t know– what is it? People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.
Yeah, that’s true.
I mean, it’s the truth, yeah. So.
And is that something that Rich, your general sales manager here, is that where he’s been embedded in you? Is that what he tries to make sure that his whole entire sales staff, his team?
Yes. We have sales meetings every Friday. He is the master motivator. He’s a man of many words, a man of many hats. He’s the best boss ever.
And having met Rich, I can totally see that, that he would be great at motivating his team and. Yeah.
And it sounds like he comes from the heart which is good. You don’t really see that in the dealership world. You really don’t see that.
Yeah. So speaking of that, a lot of people do have a kind of a negative perception of the car dealership in general. So how do you deal with that, and what are you doing to kind of change that perception?
I thrive on that [laughter]. I do. It fuels me because I was that customer. I was the one coming in with the folded arms and a down payment, I’m not putting a down payment. You guys are all there. You’re splitting the money and the profits. And until you really understand the process and how it works, it’s cut and dry. This company and this team is built on integrity. I mean, we’re transparent. We’re upfront, and it’s from our leader. It’s from Rich down. So get in or yeah.
So Flagstaff Buick GMC is a trustworthy place. You guys are all in it together to help the customer.
Transparent. That’s what it sounds like. You guys are here to help.
We work late and I mean everyone stays around. It’s great.
It sounds like you guys have a good team for sure.
We do. We do.
And it probably resonates to your guys’s customer. You guys care about each other. You guys care about your customers.
Yeah. Because I mean once they drive off, that’s not the end. We’re following up with them making sure they’re satisfied.
They’re satisfied, safe. And then Mr. Rich or you, he had his very first customer come back just two weeks ago. And I’m sure he’s been in the industry for a very long time.
About 26 years. Yeah.
26 years for him?
Yeah. I can assure you he probably does 12 deals a month himself, but he’ll designate to–
Right. Right. You’re a sales rep, the sales rep for sure.
That’s awesome. So what about your job do you think that people would be surprised to learn? Like somebody from the outside that doesn’t really know a lot about the industry or about how a car dealership works. What might surprise them to learn?
How many hands are on deck. It’s crazy [laughter]. It really is. It’s from the sales to the F&I to the service. I know it’s separate entities and divisions. I mean we have the service department, the body shop, sales, F&I, detail.
It sounds like all the departments put together to be there for your customers.
Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. And it runs smooth and the customers know it.
Excellent. All right, well it’s–
We know it. Yeah.
I think your customers do know that. You can tell when something’s together and when it’s not [laughter] from the outside even. Yeah.
Right. And that you can resonate from the employees that they’re happy to be here. They want to be here. And it resonates for the personality. The customers can sense it.
From the curb appeal to the OCD of the lines we have out there [laughter]. It’s what we do.
Right. That’s Awesome.
All right. So thank you very much for your time and for sharing about your experiences. Let’s wrap things up with just a final question. You’ve talked about it a lot already, but I’m just going to give you this one last chance to make your pitch. Why should we come to Flagstaff Buick GMC to buy our vehicle?
Customer service oriented. That’s it. It’s always going to be about the customer. Always.
We love it. Thank you so much for your time, Tommy.
Sounds like Tommy’s [inaudible]. Thank you.
Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you.