(Article published in Automotive Innovations magazine, June 2023)

By Isabelle Havasy

When Ricardo Rojas walked through the Chrysler door on that day in 1999, he would never have guessed that it was the first step on his journey into the world of dealerships.

After a decade spent navigating through various departments, Mr. Rojas moved up from a lot attendant position into an executive one. The new General Manager’s appointment comes just a few months after the company’s changeover to the Mitsubishi brand. So began the love affair with Mitsubishi that continues to this day. In 2020, Mr. Rojas joined the Applewood Auto Group, which handed him the reins of the Mitsubishi dealership in Richmond, British Columbia.

To each his own

During his 24 years exploring the different facets of a dealership, Mr. Rojas came to work in nearly every department. The only one missing from his résumé is sales. But from time to time, Mr. Rojas enjoys roaming around the showroom and the service department, chatting with customers and laying the groundwork. “These moments also allow me to take the pulse and see how we’re doing.”

Of the nine “product advisors” who make up Mr. Rojas’ team, most had no prior sales experience in the field before being hired at Applewood Mitsubishi. It doesn’t matter “if you were a bartender or a waiter, all that matters is that you have the right personality. We’ll teach you how to do the rest. Leave it to us.”

The new employees are taught a different approach to sales, which goes far beyond the simple transaction and helps to achieve greater results. “The important thing is to treat people as you would like to be treated. Be honest and make sure you keep your promises. It’s better to promise less and deliver more. If you’ve been upfront with a customer, they’ll buy from you because they appreciate you, and because you’ve been transparent in the transaction. ”

Increasing market share with pre-owned vehicles

“While inventory is still not enough to keep up with demand, we seem to be closing the gap on wait times. Our delivery times are now hovering between four to six months for the Outlander PHEV, depending on trim,” explains Mr. Rojas. However, this situation puts him in a position of dependence: “I don’t control new vehicle inventories, my manufacturer does. So, if I want to have more leverage in my business, I have to be better in the used-vehicle area.” Committed to growing this segment, Mr. Rojas is well aware that he’s not out of the woods yet. Because of the shortage of new vehicles, used vehicles are also hard to put our hands on, and their prices vary enormously.

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