Carlsbad Buick GMC Cadillac
Background Check: The dealership is part of the 11-store, California-based Hoehn Motors Co., which was founded by Theodore W. Hoehn. The dealer opened his first store outside of Denver in 1928. He sold it and moved his family to Memphis, Tenn., where he bought a Chevrolet store that was ultimately run by his son, Theodore W. Hoehn II. He was known to many as “Big” Bill.
In 1973, Bill retired to San Diego, but his time away from the business only lasted 18 months. In 1975, Hoehn purchased a Mercedes-Benz-Oldsmobile-Honda dealership in Carlsbad, Calif. The group is now managed by Hoehn’s sons, Bill and Bob.
“Southern Californians who know us, usually know us for having sales and service departments that value longtime customer relationships and have low employee turnover,” says Josh Sherman, the group’s marketing director. “Our family also places a big focus on serving the local community.”
The Numbers: Overseeing the Buick-GMC-Cadillac location is Jerry Brummet. He started at the group’s Porsche and Mercedes-Benz stores, then joined Carlsbad Buick GMC Cadillac shortly after the organization purchased the franchise in 2011 — and he brought his highline approach with him.
“I get cars by the truckloads, but I get customers one at a time,” he says. “And that’s how we take care of our customers.”
Big on accountability, Brummet relies on checklists to ensure his sales and F&I processes are followed. Sales managers review those checklists before a deal enters the finance department, while F&I managers are responsible for completing and reviewing their checklists before a deal is booked into accounting.
“If the deal gets to the F&I manager and something is missing, my F&I managers are empowered to hand it back to the sales manager to get it corrected,” Brummet says.
The dealership’s two-person F&I team currently averages north of 1.35 products per deal, with acceptance rates for service contracts and prepaid maintenance clocking in at 55% and 38%, respectively. “My target is one, meaning that at least one product is sold per contract,” Brummet says.
Compliance Check: Guiding the dealership’s compliance efforts are the same checklists that drive its sales and F&I processes. Brummet serves as the backstop, reviewing each deal jacket once the deal is booked into accounting.
“I look for things that might be overlooked, things that would cause problems for me in an OEM or DMV audit,” he says. “But the real value is, if your finance manager and your desk manager know you’re going to look at every deal, they don’t want to come into my office to explain why something important is missing.”
The group also leans on its F&I product provider, The Warranty Group’s Resource Automotive, to keep its producers trained on product selling and compliance. New hires are also sent to the firm’s Chicago headquarters for weeklong F&I training. Then there’s Hoehn University, an eight-week new-hire program led by each store’s general manager and other key personnel. The program is designed to ensure employees are aware of the group’s expectations for compliance and ethics.
Trophy Case: In 2015, the group was voted the Best Auto Service and Repair provider by readers of The San Diego Union-Tribune. It was also voted Best Auto Mall in San Diego County and Best Car Dealership by readers of Ranch & Coast magazine.
Setting the Pace: Sherman says Bill and Bob Hoehn definitely drive the group’s philanthropic efforts, but he says the real secret sauce is their corporate chaplain, Roy Inzunza. His main role is to provide counseling and support services to employees, but the effect he’s had has motivated employees to give back through employee-led charitable activities.
And whether it’s volunteering at the local soup kitchen, supplying Thanksgiving dinners and school supplies to students at the nearby elementary school, or organizing a group of employees to serve dinner to families at the Ronald McDonald House, the chaplain’s job is to get those efforts off the ground. Inzunza also spearheads the group’s Come Build a Hope program, which sends a group of 50 employees to Mexico to build homes for needy families.
Background Check: This Glendale, Wis.-based dealership was founded in 1987 by British racing legend and hall of famer David Hobbs. He remains the head of the dealership and currently works as a racing commentator for NBC and the NBC Sports Network. Managing day-to-day operations is his son, Gregory.
Driven by its core values of honesty, empathy, fairness, generosity, and community, the dealership maintains an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau. It also claims solid customer ratings, including 4.3 stars out of 317 Google reviews and 4.9 stars out of 634 DealerRater reviews.
The Numbers: The dealership’s F&I department is led by Jeremy Olson, who joined the organization 10 years ago with a plan to increase F&I production and unify the showroom. “It was like any other store; the departments were too separate,” he says, noting that the F&I department was averaging $550 per copy when he arrived. “There were barriers, and that’s what I wanted to break down.”
So the dealership instituted a sales process developed by Rising Beyond Inc.. Olson also got his team more involved in the showroom. What really made the difference, however, was the addition of Business Manager John Anderson.
“I was very fortunate to get John,” Olson says, noting that he and Anderson came from high-volume Honda and Toyota stores owned by the same group. “We brought in the experience of heavy operations.”
Titles were also changed to reflect the dealership’s “dealer for the people” motto. Salespeople, now called expert solutions providers (ESP), introduce sales managers early in their process. Their role is to serve as customer ambassadors. And if a sales manager is unavailable, Olson or Anderson will step in.
Olson and Anderson require that all credit applications go to them first. This allows them to review the customer’s credit situation before consulting with the sales and desk manager on deal structure. It’s the main reason for the dealership’s 80% finance penetration.
Once a commitment is reached, the ESPs conduct a BMI, or business manager introduction. “It’s our way of getting into the customer interview,” Olson explains. “It allows the customer to see the person who is going to facilitate anything numbers-related.”
With leasing accounting for 40% of the dealership’s sales, Olson’s minimum expectation for his department is $800 per copy for new and $1,200 to $1,250 for certified pre-owned. He notes that product sales account for 65% of those averages.
Compliance Check: To ensure David Hobbs is truly a “dealer for the people,” every new hire must complete American Financial & Automotive Services’ online compliance and ethics training. “It’s a lengthy process, but it’s got to be done to protect the store,” Olson says, adding that he and Anderson attend American Financial’s Automotive Training Academy on an annual basis.
The two producers also attend ethics courses and sessions on credit practices and procedures offered by the Wisconsin Automobile & Truck Dealers Association. The dealership also uses independent auditors to review deal files for compliance.
Trophy Case: In January, David Hobbs Honda earned DealerRater’s 2015 Customer Satisfaction Award. And since 2011, the dealership has never fallen off WISN TV’s “A List” for area dealers, which is voted on by viewers of the ABC affiliate. Last year, the dealership was voted the top dealer in Wisconsin after being a runner-up twice.
Setting the Pace: The dealership is highly active in the Glendale community. It participates in and sponsors walks and golf tournaments to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. It also contributes to the local Holy Family Church, the Wounded Warrior Project, and The First Tee, an international youth development organization.
David Hobbs is also the official sponsor of Olympic triathlete Gwen Jorgensen, who was born in Waukesha, Wis., and competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. And for the last two years, the dealership has served as the official dealer of the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest.
Background Check: Located in North Aurora, Ill., Gerald Hyundai is part of the seven-store Gerald Auto Group, which was founded by Neil Gerald in 1936. While the dealer remains active, his son, Doug, manages day-to-day operations. And like his father, the family-first dealer is big on employee satisfaction.
“They believe that, if you put employees first, they’ll put customers first,” says Dan Mason, Gerald Hyundai’s F&I director.
The philosophy has delivered solid ratings for the store, including 4.8 stars out of 615 DealerRater reviews, 4.6 starts out of 459 Surecritic.com reviews, and 4.9 out of 459 Cars.com reviews. In February, the dealership was awarded Edmunds.com’s Five Star Dealer award.
The Numbers: Since Mason joined the dealership two years ago, his F&I department has increased its per-copy average by $200 and its product-per-deal average by 1.3 products. The F&I director attributes the gains to his consultative approach, noting that the F&I process starts with a meet-and-greet in the showroom.
“We want to answer the three big questions: ‘Who are you, what do you do, and how long is this going to take?’” Mason says, adding that customers are typically in and out of his office in 30 minutes.
The F&I sales process starts with a simple question: Have you reviewed the warranty and maintenance booklet? “That’s when I say, ‘I know, it looks like a bible and it’s written in legal speak,” Mason explains. “That’s when they start to relax.”
Then, while printing out the paperwork, Mason launches into a conversation to get the customer talking. “They start telling me about themselves,” he says. “It’s not me versus them. And I believe that’s the reason for our CSI scores and incredible reviews online.”
The approach has also delivered a 2.3 product-per-deal average. And out of the 1,030 deals his department delivered through July, only 256 customers left the store without a product. The department’s charge-back rate sits at 8%.
Compliance Check: Four years ago, the dealer group installed video- and audio-recording equipment in each of its F&I offices. Those recording are reviewed by the dealership’s attorneys on a monthly basis. “They look at five or six random transactions from each F&I manager — the ones that just happen to have made the most money,” Mason says. The attorneys then deliver a PowerPoint presentation detailing their findings, which the group’s entire F&I team reviews during a monthly meeting. Mason and his team will also review the videos.
“We tell every customer that comes in, ‘Everything in my office is video recorded. That’s for your protection as much as ours,’” Mason says.
Sales and finance checklists also guide the group’s compliance efforts. Mason says his F&I managers are required to disclose the base payment on the initial menu, and then disclose it again if there’s a change in rate or term. They are also required to collect signatures on their menus to confirm that all products were disclosed. Customers are also asked to initial next to each product they agreed to buy.
The group also requires that every manager — from the new-car manager and desk manager to the used-car manager and F&I managers — earn certification with the Association of Finance & Insurance Professionals (AFIP). It also employs Compli’s compliance management system to ensure employees are updated on new rules and regulations.
“Our dealer group is one of the most compliant dealer groups on the planet,” Mason claims.
Trophy Case: Aside from the Edmunds.com award, Gerald Hyundai consistently ranks No. 1 for service contract penetration among Hyundai dealers in the region. Through August, the dealership’s acceptance rate for the product stood at 80%.
Setting the Pace: The group is partnered with more than 17 charitable and community organizations, including Living Well Cancer Resource Center, the Wounded Warrior Project, Giant Steps, and the Conservation Foundation. It also supports local sports teams, law enforcement and firefighter associations, and numerous community events in North Aurora and surrounding communities.
Background Check: Houston’s Hub Hyundai and Hub Mitsubishi operate at the same location but in separate facilities. They are part of Hub Auto Group, which was founded in 1975 by Bob Cox.
Serving as the general manager for both stores is Mark Odat, a more than 30-year industry veteran who joined the group in 1988. He credits Cox for creating the group’s employee-first culture. “He really values his employees,” Odat says.
And happy employees have delivered happy customers. Through July, the location claimed 4.4 stars out of 205 Google reviews, 4.8 out of 335 DealerRater reviews, and 4.5 out of 404 Surecritic.com reviews.
The Numbers: The dealership’s five F&I producers average between three and four products per deal. Odat says the store’s bundled appearance product is a major reason for that high average. The operation averages more than $1,300 per copy on both new and used, with acceptance rates for service contracts, GAP and theft sitting above 45%.
Odat credits the dealership’s 83% finance penetration for those averages, as well as the training his producers receive from F&I product provider EFG Companies. His process starts with a customer interview in the showroom. Producers first want to uncover as much as they can about the customer’s credit situation. They also want to learn about the buyer’s driving and ownership habits, as well as other details they can use to tailor their menu presentations and handle objections.
Odat, however, is most proud of his F&I department’s process times, with customers spending between 30 and 40 minutes in the F&I office. He credits the organization’s twice-weekly sales training sessions his F&I managers lead for drawing the two departments together. But what’s made a big difference, he says, is VinSolutions’ Connect CRM, which features a driver’s license scanner that ensures customer information is accurately collected.
Compliance Check: The reduced process time has allowed the two high-volume stores to limit producers to 70 deliveries per month. This ensures that all products and regulatory disclosures are properly made.
Dealertrack’s compliance solutions handle OFAC and Red Flags checks. The dealership also employs F&I compliance and accounting checklists, which guide the dealership’s in-house audits as well as the monthly audits performed by EFG Companies.
Trophy Case: In 2015, Hub Mitsubishi collected its third-straight Diamond Chapter of Excellence — the OEM’s highest honor for customer service in the sales, service, and parts departments — while Hub Hyundai was recognized by Hyundai Motor America for its remarkable improvement over the last 12 months.
The Houston location’s 95% recommendation rating also earned it DealerRater’s 2016 Consumer Satisfaction Award. Hyundai Motor Finance also recognized the dealership as the No. 1 supporting dealer in its region in 2015.
“With Hyundai, anytime they have a challenge or contest for dealers, we have won every single contest — handily, too,” Odat boasts.
Setting the Pace: Last year, Cox was elected president of the regional Hyundai Dealers Association. His stores also support a host of causes, including Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels program, the Texas Children’s Hospital, the Houston Food Bank, holiday toy drives, and the CY-Fair Educational Foundation, among others.
Background Check: The Lewisville, Texas, dealership is part of Five Star Ford of Texas Inc., a group that consists of four Ford dealerships located in the sprawling Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. The group was founded in 1980, when Sam Pack, a former Ford Credit employee, acquired his first store in Carrollton, Texas.
Culture, says F&I Director Tom Andrews, is what separates the group from its competition. He joined the organization 14 years ago, just after Pack purchased the Lewisville location in the late 1990s. “Everybody talks about per retail unit. That’s important. It’s part of our business,” he says. “More important is culture. We always say, ‘We’re in the people business. We just happen to do it in the car business.’”
Andrews credits Pack for establishing the group’s culture, but says the dealer’s son, Tony, the group’s vice president, and Terry Rich, the group’s COO, are responsible for maintaining it. “It’s what drives everybody every day,” he says. “And if you come to the store in a positive mood and you love your job, it’s going to trickle down to the customer.”
The Numbers: The dealership averages well north of $1,500 per copy on new and more than $1,200 on used. Acceptance rates for service contracts, GAP, and wheel-and-tire protection sit well north of 50%, while chargebacks are within industry standards.
The presentation tool of choice is The Impact Group’s Fusion menu. Andrews says he likes the transparency of the electronic menu, particularly the graphs the store’s five producers use to illustrate how GAP works, vehicle depreciation, and cost of ownership.
Setting up the menu is the customer interview, which is guided by the dealership’s client data sheet. It must be completed before the menu is presented. Andrews says the data sheet doesn’t just focus on the customer’s ownership habits. It also contains a set of questions designed to help producers learn about the customer’s credit situation before deals are submitted to finance sources.
Although he does a lot of one-on-one coaching, Andrews credits the training his F&I managers receive from IAS, the group’s longtime F&I product provider, for the store’s high per-copy average. “Our rep comes in weekly and sits down with each producer to role play and go over objection-handling,” Andrews says. “He’s always helping out in some way.”
Compliance Check: The dealership requires that all producers earn AFIP certification. They must also sign the company’s job description, which lays out the group’s expectations for ethics and compliance. But Andrews says compliance is really driven by the store’s culture.
Backing up that customer-first approach is a multilayer compliance process. It starts with the group’s caps on F&I product pricing and markups, with audits performed monthly to ensure producers adhere to the group’s pricing policies. It’s one of the reasons for the dealership’s low chargeback rate.
Trophy Case: In 2015, the dealership was awarded Ford Partners in Quality, Ford Credit’s highest honor for customer satisfaction and loyalty. “It’s the first time we won in 14 years,” Andrews says, noting that the store’s CSI score sits at 94%. The Lewisville location has also earned six straight Ford President’s Awards.
The group’s founder was named the TIME Quality Dealer of the Year in 1988, and has earned several local awards, including the Lewisville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year award. Pack’s group has also earned a host of accolades, including multiple Triple Crown awards from Ford, the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and Edmunds’ Five Star Dealer award.
Setting the Pace: Like other stores in the group, the Lewisville location is big on supporting local high school athletic teams. It also donates five cars to the local driver’s education programs, and spearheads ride-and-drive events that allow schools to earn money for their programs every time they test-drive a new model.
The group also supports causes like Toys for Tots, Ryan’s Project for wounded U.S. Marines, and the Kyle Frog Foundation. Andrews is also involved in prison ministry, spending every other Tuesday at the nearby juvenile hall.
Background Check: The Abilene, Texas-based operation has been under the guidance of Dealer Principal Mike Dunnahoo since 1999. The group added the Hyundai franchise in 2001.
Dunnahoo started in the industry in 1972, and remains active in all facets of his business, including hiring, says Jeff Zinsser, the group’s finance director. “He’s very diligent on who he hires,” he says. “He wants people who understand what he expects.”
Zinsser says what separates him from other dealers is his treatment of employees. “There are a lot of dealers who are hands-on like he is, but he takes care of his employees,” he says.
The Numbers: Zinsser manages a centralized F&I department, with his three-person F&I team operating out of the group’s Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram location. The Hyundai showroom is located next door, or about a minute-and-a-half walk from his F&I department.
Four years ago, the group installed Reynolds & Reynolds’ docuPAD. Zinsser admits the system took some getting used to, but he says docuPAD is one of the main drivers of the group’s 63% acceptance rate on service contracts, and 80% finance penetration. On a year-to-date basis, the Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram location’s F&I gross per copy checks in well north of $1,500 per copy on both new and used. The Hyundai store isn’t as high, but it has posted steady increases since the docuPAD was installed.
“I give credit to my desk and sales managers, and my producers as well,” Zinsser says. “But a lot of that has to do with the docuPAD and the way it gets the customer involved.”
Compliance Check: Zinsser subscribes to a needs-based selling approach, meaning his F&I team won’t sell something that doesn’t address a need. “In a community as large but as small as ours, you can’t do people that way. You’re going to see those people again,” he says. “You have to have a genuine concern for the customer, and I believe we do that.”
Setting the organization’s expectations is the company’s ethics statement, which every employee must sign. Dunnahoo also requires that his F&I team undergoe ongoing compliance training. They must also complete Ally’s “Equal Credit Opportunity Act Awareness for Dealers” training course. The group’s F&I product provider, EFG Companies, also aids in the group’s compliance efforts.
“We work directly with them on compliance,” Zinsser says of EFG, noting that the firm sends a sales trainer to the dealership once a month to keep the sales team on its toes. The group’s AFIP-certified rep is also in the store a few days every couple of weeks to work with Zinsser’s F&I team, deliver performance reports, and even take a few turns.
“He gets his feet wet,” Zinsser adds, noting that his team also travels to EFG’s Irving, Texas, headquarters for finance training.
The dealer group also caps F&I product and rate markups — the latter capped at 1.5%. The group also notes a business reason for markdowns. “When it comes to rate deviation, we try to be consistent,” Zinsser says. “As for our F&I products, we don’t deviate from those [set prices], because, to me, you’re setting yourself up if you’re deviating.”
Zinsser checks every deal for compliance, and to make sure nothing is missing before deals are sent to accounting. EFG will then come out once a month to perform deal audits.
Trophy Case: Star Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram/Hyundai is a returning F&I Pacesetter, having been named a finalist for the magazine’s F&I Dealer of the Year award in 2013. Its trophy case also includes a 2011 Chrysler Elite Dealer award, and the Oldsmobile Vanguard Top Sales Award. And from 2012 to 2014, the dealer group made Automotive News’ “Best Dealers to Work For” list.
Setting the Pace: Six years ago, Dunnahoo’s organization adopted the neighboring Alameda projects, hosting block parties and fixing homes in the high-crime area. Two years ago, the local police department recognized the projects as the most improved area in the city, with the dealer group’s efforts credited for the turnaround.
The group is also active in anything related to the military. And every quarter, the organization selects a family for home repairs and upgrades. The group also supports Boy Scouts of America. Dunnahoo also serves on the Abilene Board of Education, and has been a United Way Fair Share giver since 2000.