photos by STEVEN HERTZOG
LBM: What is your company’s most important commodity or service?
MS: Our customer service is what we sell. We work hard to exceed our customers’ expectations in every facet of our business.
LBM: Other than monetary, what is your company’s most important priority?
MS: We expect our customers to be as happy when they’re leaving as they were when they came. We want to greet them with a smile and we want them to leave smiling, feeling like they were treated right.
LBM: What have been the most important aspects of your success?
MS: Being able to attract and keep good people who want to succeed is the key. Without highly ambitious people to perpetuate your philosophy you won’t succeed.
LBM: How do you manage the day-to-day stress of business?
MS: I work with a highly motivated physical trainer to keep me in top physical health. That helps a lot. Also, I wake up every morning expecting something good to happen. I’ve always believed the sun shines on the highest branch of the tree. If I’m pouting or something, people notice that. I have a positive attitude and that rubs off on people.
LBM: How do you reward excellent work performance?
MS: We celebrate revenue generators. Our pay is based on creating revenue for the dealership. If you do that, your paycheck will reflect it. We’re always happy to pay earned bonuses.
LBM: How do you manage poor performance?
MS: Each department head conveys our expectations to their staff daily. Really, we try to avoid the issue by hiring, training and challenging the best people we can find.
LBM: What is the biggest challenge your company faces?
MS: Our challenge is to attract people who want to make the car business a career. We have work available for anyone who wants to talk about it. Too many people view selling cars as something they’ll do for a while until they figure out what they want their career to be. I was one of those people. One day I made the decision to make this my career. That was more than 30 years ago.
LBM: How many people does your business employ? How many of those live in Lawrence? Does your company encourage people to live in Lawrence? What is the benefit?
MS: We employee 90 people, both full and part-time, in Lawrence. Of those, 78 live in Lawrence. I think it’s important because living near your work allows you more time in your life. You can spend more time with your family and less driving to the job.
LBM: What would you change about doing business in Lawrence?
MS: We really need to get the South Lawrence Trafficway completed. Regardless of the politics involved, having a corridor that shows travelers that South Iowa Street is alive and well is important. We have a lot of good businesses on this side of town that could be greatly helped by the roadway.
LBM: How does your business make a positive impact on the Lawrence community?
MS: Having the success of working with so many great people has allowed me to be philanthropic with my resources to help others in our community. As a businesses we go out of our way to support as many charities as we can. We’ve always focused on youth and helping those who can not help themselves.
LBM: You operate in an industry increasingly penetrated by online competition. How have you manage to remain relevant and profitable?
MS: We try to advertise as much as possible without spending money. We try to be everywhere we can be financially. But, if we can offer a great consumer experience, people will tell their friends. It’s hard for a website to duplicate that. Also, we are taking advantage of the internet with a new e-commerce department that utilizes social media to reach people looking to buy a car.
LBM: Over the course of your career, what has the been the single largest change in the
Lawrence auto environment?
MS: The internet, without question. Today when someone wants to buy a car, they can come in knowing the make, model, year and color they want. Often, they’ll know how much we paid for it and come to the table with an offer.
LBM: What do you foresee as being the biggest challenge to auto dealers in Lawrence?
MS: Our biggest challenge, believe it or not, is getting people that live in Lawrence to shop in Lawrence. We have as much to offer as the big city and we care about taking care of the people of Lawrence.