Automotive News: Retail Forum- Dealer Discussion

Inventory, staffing issues linger after rough spring. Dealers know as well as any businesspeople that the going is not always good, and they prepare accordingly..

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Amid Coronavirus, Some Cooped-Up New Yorks Buy a First Car

Fear of mass transit or just the need for a getaway vehicle sends more city residents to car dealers.

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Cheddar: Automakers must address safety concerns as factories prepare to reopen 

Last week, I sat down with Jill Wagner from Cheddar to discuss what automakers are going to need to do to address safety concerns before factories start to open back up.

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Automotive News: Now’s The Time For Reinvention – Dan Shine

Last week, I attended an online forum where dealers, fixed ops directors and service managers shared their views on how the coronavirus pandemic was affecting business. They traded ideas on how best to deal with the current situation and pondered what the service drive would look like in the future.

Most agreed that dealership fixed operations will not go back to business as usual once COVID-19 passes. Customers have become accustomed to some of the concierge services that have been rolled out by service departments as they attempt to do business while also honoring social distancing protocols. Things such as vehicle pickup and delivery, mobile servicing, video multipoint inspections and touchless payment.

Brian Benstock, whom you can read about in this newsletter, said service departments need to change and reinvent themselves. Why?

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Automotive Trends: Pickup and Delivery – Alyssa Ruane, CPA

Automotive Mobility Trends

Trends within the automotive industry are often referred to as “disruptions” given the shift in consumer behavior and technology. However, as Michael Maroone, CEO of Maroone USA, has noted, these disruptions are “pivotal moments” for the industry as a whole. Dealers can benefit from these changes by focusing on long-neglected areas, like fixed operations.

According to NADA, consumers spent $485 billion on vehicle repairs in 2018, but dealers captured only 20% of the revenue. Therefore, there is ample opportunity to advance a dealership’s service department by implementing innovative, competitive programs.

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Automotive News:

NYC dealership’s valet program attracts thousands of service customers – Jim Henry, Fixed Ops Journal

WOODSIDE, N.Y. — Brian Benstock’s service department is operating at peak efficiency, working three shifts around the clock. Yet there’s no rush-hour logjam of customers waiting to drop off their cars and trucks at his dealership.

Benstock, the general manager and partner of Paragon Honda-Acura, in the New York City borough of Queens, wants to see few — or no — customers in the service waiting area. He loves the sound of phones not ringing off the hook with service calls, even though that would drive most dealers crazy.

“The customer provides absolutely no value by being at the dealership,” Benstock told Fixed Ops Journal. “I don’t need the customer. I do need the car.”

Benstock gets thousands of service vehicles to his dealership each month by picking them up from customers’ homes or workplaces and returning them when the work is done, at no extra charge. The most prevalent inquiries from service customers — “When will it be ready?” and “How much will it cost?” — are responded to by text message, along with the details of vehicle pickup and delivery, Benstock says.

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CBT Automotive Network:

How to Hold on to Front-End Gross and Improve the Overall Health of your Dealership – Brian Benstock, Paragon Honda

The key to holding front end gross profit is to not solely rely on it. Be transparent with pricing, be innovative, and understand your business better than anyone. You need to look for other areas in every transaction to surpass. What can you do better? Revamp your capacity.

Dealers across the country have felt the pressure to hold on to front-end gross as margin compression continues to be a persistent issue. Here to tell us how you can increase profits and improve the overall health of your dealership is Brian Benstock, partner GM, and VP at Paragon Honda. Today, Jim and Brian also discuss operating successfully within the digital environment, as well as hiring and motivating talented staff.

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Carly Evans, 2 Market Media,

Automotive Magazine

Sfeerverslag Automotive Dealer Holding Seminar 2018
Only by providing the consumer with perfect service, the dealer company has a chance to not be eaten by the big tech giants like Amazon. Brian Benstock, the largest Honda- and Acura dealer in the US, told his audience at the Automotive Dealer Holding Seminar that took place yesterday in Doorn.
At the event, members of the sixty largest dealer holdings in the Netherlands were present. Data evangelist Jack Esselink (IBM) and e-sports athlete Koen Schobbers told about the possibilities that contemporary technology offers. Schobbers participated in game competitions in stadiums with tens of thousands of people. He is also active as an e-sport marketing consultant. Do not think that young people are easy to reach. “If you sponsor an athlete or team for two weeks, you have two weeks of attention, after which you can start again.”
Keynote speaker Benstock explained all the risks in his story. “I’m not here to tell a happy story: the tech giants want to take over the automotive industry, with hundreds of billions of sales.” With its company Paragon, Benstock wants to unburden the customer in all possible ways. “If a customer wants it, we pick up his car in the evening and bring it back in the morning, only by frictionless experience you can permanently bind the customer.”

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CBT Automotive Network:

Why the SAAR Doesn’t Determine the Success of Your Dealership – Brian Benstock

Jim Fitzpatrick is joined today by Vice President and General Manager of Paragon Honda, Brian Benstock, to discuss the final quarter of this fiscal year and what to prepare for in 2019.

Even though September sales are not quite as robust as August, they are still trending ahead of last year holding steady at a 17 million SAAR. However, this has led to dealer push back against stair-step OEM programs. While they make work in the short-term, they ultimately leave dealers chasing deals. In Ben’s opinion, this creates bad habits in the dealership, de-values the product, and adds confusion to the market.

Ben elaborates, “I want to know what my car is going to cost so I can figure out how to market and merchandise that car.”

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Automotive News:

New York’s Paragon sweetened Clunkers deal

Brian Benstock devised new sales strategies to recover from the recession that his dealerships still use today.

When the Great Recession hit in 2008, the impact was swift, severe and surprising, recalled Brian Benstock, vice president of Paragon Honda and Paragon Acura.

Combined sales at the two Woodside neighborhood stores in the New York City borough of Queens plunged 30 percent from August to September. Nonetheless, Benstock stayed the course through November.

“I was slow to react because it was such a quick drop. I thought it would turn around quickly,” said Benstock, now 57.

He went through many sleepless nights, buffeted by feelings that bounced between guilt and remorse. Eventually, Benstock reluctantly reduced head count.

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Today is the Day to Prepare for the Future

The retail industry as we know it, will cease to exist in less than five years. The future of retail is frictionless; easy, simple and intuitive. Big technology companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google are challenging brick and mortar stores, mom and pop shops, and even bigger corporations to move forward at faster pace. If you’re not moving towards frictionless customer service, you’ll be out of business before the future hits. Brian Benstock knows how to stay ahead of the game. Every business needs an app. You owe it to your consumer base and to your team to join the 21st century, because while many businesses mistakenly view apps as luxury items, they are a necessity. Jeremy Callahan discusses the pros and… pros of creating apps to scale your business.

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Focusing on the Basics In Your Dealership – Brian Benstock, Paragon Honda

CBT Automotive Network recently caught up with Brain Benstock, GM and VP of Paragon Honda / Paragon Acura, and discussed why it is important that dealers check in regularly  on their dealership, even on Sundays.

Brian addresses how the market is choppy and how we as an industry should focus more on the basics. When it comes to your staff, sometimes the best thing a dealer can do to boost morale is to show up. “Those basics are making sure that we are accountable to the staff, that we’re there when they’re there, not just requiring that they are there. I think that means that those of us that have boats, and like to play golf, and do other things on Sundays, that we need to, every now and then, forgo that and show up at the dealership.” He says.

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Tariffs on car imports could raise prices by nearly $7,000

“NEW YORK – At his Honda dealership in Queens, New York, general manager Brian Benstock is warning customers and employees that price hikes could be coming.

“We’re always telling our customers to buy now,” he said. “Now is a good time. Prices are gonna go up. Potentially go up. But to put some fear in the market. And fear is not a good thing.”

The proposed 25 percent tariff on imported cars and auto parts from Europe and elsewhere  could give buyers sticker shock. Consumers could be shelling out nearly $7,000 more per vehicle. The Honda Civic could cost an extra $1,100. The Ford Escape up nearly $1,600 and the Audi Q5 could run nearly $6,000 higher.”

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Auto Remarketing:

Paragon expands online buying, service platform

“NEW YORK – Paragon Honda and Paragon Acura announced last week they have expanded the group’s e-commerce sales and service platform to another borough of New York. After a three-month beta test in Manhattan, Paragon Direct is now available in Queens.

Paragon, which was Auto Remarketing’s inaugural CPO Dealer of the Year in 2010, works with Roadster in providing this service through the company’s white-label Express Storefront program.

In June, Benstock joined the Auto Remarketing Podcast to talk about Paragon Direct, his take on the role of dealers in digital retailing and more. That interview can be found below…”

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Click Here to Listen to Auto Remarketing Podcast