Congratulations to Mrs. Edith Singer and the entire White Plains Honda team for a record breaking month.  This is truly a milestone that shows the great strides the team has made.

Keep up the good work!

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“This is what customers pay us for – to sweat all these details so it’s easy and pleasant for them…”

-Steve Jobs

In any business it is important to focus on the details; to not only listen to the customer but to anticipate their needs.  In order to maintain a strong relationship, we must not only know our product but also know our customer.

And as each business carries its own set of challenges it is important to identify any areas of improvement.  Paragon Honda’s Queens, NY location has created a unique set of challenges with several blocks separating the service center from the showroom.  This is why the dealership now offers free transportation between buildings.  This small addition will save our customers time and money, and it is often the smallest details that play the biggest role in building a successful relationship.

 

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Paragon Honda has had the privilege of hosting dealers from Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Japan, Australia and many more places over the past several years. I always value these visits, as these visits are always a learning experience for both me and my team.

This time, instead of hosting visiting dealers, I traveled to them.

On Monday evening, I boarded a plane and traveled to Copenhagen to speak at the Confederation of Danish Dealers annual conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Due to the time difference, I landed midday on Tuesday and started a whirlwind schedule.

My two and a half days in Copenhagen were filled with presentation prep, an interview with Mikkel Thomsager, Editor-In-Chief of the Danish business paper Chefredaktør, and a great dinner with the Board of Directors of the conference.

Despite the different country, culture and business model, I found that my presentation message resonated with the over 250 Danish dealers, vendors and business partners in attendance. Both of our auto industries are facing the same challenges, both now and in the immediate future. The time to confront these challenges is now, before it is too late and the next wave of progress is upon us and we are left behind.

It was truly an enjoyable trip, and I’m looking forward to a continuing relationship with the Denmark auto industry.

 

Featured Photo: A copy of the presentation booklet in Danish featuring my image and a quick overview of Paragon Honda.

Photos Below: Left: Just before dinner with the Confederation of Danish Dealers Board of Directors in the wonderful amusement park Trivoli. Middle: A few slides into my presentation in front of 250+ Danish auto personnel. Bottom: Myself standing alongside several Board of Directors with a copy of my gift to them as a token of my gratitude, “Acres of Diamonds.”

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Success is built after the lights off and everyone else has gone home. It’s built in the early morning hours when the rest of the world is asleep. When I want to go home, or when I’m tired and don’t want to get up early, I remember that success is simply outworking everyone else. Promise yourself you will not be outworked.

 

Video link: http://bit.ly/21GP3FY

As many of you know, I am an avid marathon runner. I run several marathons a year, including the London Marathon. This year, I traveled to London with my family several days in advance to get settled and start my pre-marathon routine to ensure I was in top shape.

This year held special significance to me, as this year marked ten years since I ran my first marathon. I ran my first marathon in 2006 and posted an embarrassingly long time: over four hours. Ten years later – and ten years older – and I have shaved more than an hour off my time, and run countless other marathons across the country. Every time I start training for a marathon, I am reminded through all the pain, soreness and stiff muscles and joints how to work hard at something you love.

 

Photos: A mix of pre- and post-race alongside my running partners, as well as a shot during the 26-mile trek.

 

 

A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak at a Honda Grassroots Meeting for Zone 8 by the zone manager. For those who know me and the Paragon dealerships, Zone 8 is not my zone. In fact, it is far from my zone, in the upper Midwest.

 

It’s always a great opportunity to spend time outside of my bubble and see how the rest of the country does business. Brainstorming and sharing knowledge is critical to building each other up, because as Honda dealers we should be allies instead of foes.

 

I was honored that Honda corporate thought that my thoughts and business philosophies would be valuable enough to share with fellow Honda dealers, particularly in a market so different from New York. And yet, the central theme of my presentation was one that affects all dealers across the nation. I believe our industry is under attack in the form of Tesla, Google and Apple. The warning signs are here, and there is no mistaking the direction in which the consumer wants our industry to evolve. That evolution may not include us, the dealer.

 

Hope is not lost. The best part about these warning signs are just that – they are signs, signals of the impending change. We have time to adjust and to adapt before the rain comes. Adjust your business models and adapt to the consumer while times are good.

 

Fix the roof while the sun is shining.

 

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Photo: This photo was taken during the presentation at the beautifully classic Renaissance Blackstone Chicago hotel.

Last week, Paragon Honda was honored with the distinction of #1 Honda Certified Pre-Owned Dealer in the nation for 2015. Several wonderful folks from American Honda visited Paragon Honda to personally deliver this award, including Mr. Hiroshi Aizawa, Mr. Ray Mikiciuk and Mr. Sam Dolente.

I am incredibly proud of my team for working hard every minute of every day of 2015 to earn this award. It is a significant accomplishment. It speaks to our ability to provide the right product at the right price to large numbers of people, and our market has responded favorably to this value proposition.

 

#1 Volume Dealer Award pic

 

Cover Photo: (From left) Hiroshi Aizawa, Honda Division Coordinator; Ray Mikiciuk, Honda Senior Manager U.S. Field Sales; Sam Dolente, Honda Zone Manager, from American Honda present Paragon Honda with the #1 Honda CPO Dealer Award 2015.

Post Photo: Several members of our Paragon Honda management team. (From left): Rob Patel, Jason Graciano, Mike Adovic, Sasha Kekovic and Ariel Munoz.

I had the honor of being the keynote speaker for the 2016 Automotive Leadership Roundtable in Miami, Florida. It was an incredible event, attended by the best and the brightest in the industry. Shared wisdom only makes us collectively better.

My presentation topic was one that I’ve been speaking about for quite a while now, and something that has me very, very worried. As an industry, we need to wake up and acknowledge the dangerous external threats we are facing in the form of Google, Apple and Tesla. These tech titans have declared their intention to build their own vehicles and disrupt our industry in measures not seen since widespread adoption of cars decades ago. It is time to act, get your own house in order before it is too late. Fix the roof while the sun is shining on us.

Photo: Backstage view during my presentation at the beautiful Fontainebleu Hotel in Miami, Florida.

That quote is from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Champion bodybuilder, A-list actor, successful politician – the man has achieved everything he has set out to do.

This video, narrated by Schwarzenegger, speaks about his drive and motivation to succeed. Perhaps most importantly, Schwarzenegger describes his plan and worth ethic to the path of greatness. He did not stumble upon success. He had a plan, and he worked tirelessly to achieve his dreams.

A plan and work ethic – two things I respect most. Enjoy the video.

Video: http://bit.ly/1SYoCXa

Donald Trump knows how to be successful. Whether you agree with his political opinions or not, The Donald has achieved what few people have been able to accomplish: “Trump” is no longer just his name, but a larger-than-life brand recognized around the world across multiple industries.

I found this interview with CNBC’s Erin Burnett on “The Billionaire Inside: Donald Trump” from over a decade ago, long before he declared his candidacy for President of the United States. He described three basic principles for success:

  1. Know your subject
  2. Negotiate face to face
  3. Build your brand

Even though Trump wasn’t specifically talking about the automotive industry, I think these principles are more relevant in today’s automotive environment than ever before. As margins continue to shrink and consumers become more educated, we must know our product inside and out. We must be able to build a trusted relationship with our customers beyond mass mailings. And perhaps most importantly, our businesses must have solid reputations that speak for themselves.

Video link: http://bit.ly/1Lg61mY