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

 

I’m actually surprised to be typing these words. After years (almost a decade!) of expected release dates, teaser specs and rumors abound, Acura is officially releasing the all-new supercar, the 2016 NSX. And boy, did Acura nail it.

The NSX is scheduled to become available for order at the end of this month, and Paragon Acura will have a handful available for order only. If you’re curious to see what it looks like and available options, we’ll have a special display in our showroom with the various paint and leather interior options available to order.

Paragon Acura is jumping on board the celebrations with a new billboard featuring the NSX alongside it’s tagline, “Precision Crafted Performance.” The installation crew braved the cold and rain to make sure this was up in time for the official order date – thanks, team. Great job.

 

Photos: Billboard installation crew did a great job installing the new Acura NSX billboard on Paragon Acura’s lot.

 

NSX 3   NSX 1

Within the most innocent interactions lie the greatest lessons.

The other day a man approached me in Paragon Honda’s showroom. I didn’t recognize him, so I asked him his name and how I could help him. He told me that I had sold him his first Honda vehicle – a Pilot – ten years ago when I was a General Sales Manager at P.S. Honda in Queens.

“You don’t remember me, do you?” he said. Surprised, I admitted that I did not.

“You sold me a Pilot ten years ago at P.S. Honda. I told you I would come back when it was time for my next car – and here I am,” he said, and he pulled out a business card of mine from over ten years ago.

While I had no memory of this customer, nor of his Pilot that I sold him so many years ago, this simple interaction reminded me of perhaps the only rule in sales that matters: if you treat a customer the right way, a customer is a customer forever. We sold him a new 2016 Accord, and he walked away a happy customer – again.

 

Photo: The featured photo is my old business card that the gentleman presented.

As dealers, we have a lot of details to keep track of. It’s a huge operation to ensure everything runs smoothly every day. It’s easy to let details go since they “don’t matter anyway.” I’ve heard that a lot lately.

Friends.. details are what sets you apart. The details put you from good to great. Small things like making sure all the vehicles in the lot are aligned perfectly, or that every vehicle adorned with matching hangtags and license plate inserts. These are the things that our customers notice first even if we notice them last.

Pay attention to the details. They will get you far.

 

Photo: The Paragon Honda Certified Pre-Owned staff early in the morning, making sure the lot is perfect with just a porter and a string.

Motivation isn’t always easy to find. Some days I’m tired, or simply don’t feel like putting my best forward. On these rough days I reach for a video, poem or an inspirational story to get myself ready for the day. I’ve shared one of my favorite videos below – I hope you find it as motivating and inspiring as I do.

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

 

 

White Plains Honda decided to celebrate the season of giving with a “November to Remember” event this past November, promising to donate 20 cans of food for each car sold on Saturday, November 7. The donations would be donated to the Food Bank for Westchester.

White Plains Honda had homemade food, subs and other refreshments on hand to celebrate as they sold an incredible 31 cars in one day. Led by new sales manager Chris Paranzino, White Plains Honda donated over 620 cans of food to the Food Bank just before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Congratulations, White Plains Honda team! We’re already looking forward to the 2nd Annual November to Remember Event later this year.

Photos: Chris Paranzino, White Plains Honda Sales Manager, assists with the canned food delivery for the Food Bank for Westchester.

 

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Paragon Honda is smack in the center of Woodside. We’re diverse, and so are our customers. If you walk around our showroom, you’ll probably hear more Spanish from our customers and sales staff than English. We want to make sure our Spanish customers know we can communicate with them in their own language, so we make sure our ads are in Spanish, too.

Our very own Jason Graciano, Paragon Honda General Sales Manager, stayed at the dealership past midnight with our team to shoot a perfect commercial for Univision. A big thank you to our partners at Univision and Jason for making it count.

Stop by and say hi to Jason and our team, and let us know if you saw Jason’s commercial. We’d love to see you.

I’m a strong believer in paying it forward. Anyone who has done anything in this life has had help, and I believe that you should return the favor when the opportunity arises.

Over the past several years Paragon has been honored to host dealers from across the country and our Canadian neighbors. Most recently, we had the honor of hosting visitors from Denmark. The delegation, equivalent to our NADA and representing over 10 manufacturers, made the eight-hour flight to New York to tour our facilities and hear me share some thoughts about Paragon and where the auto industry is headed. It was fun and interesting to hear about their dealerships and customs in Denmark.