Ricky Wood got into the automotive business through the back door as a consultant.
When the owners of Faulkner Automotive Group in Philadelphia wanted a new general manager for their ailing BMW store in Lancaster, Pa., they asked finance and insurance consultant Wood to take the job.
Wood, then 31, had never sold cars. "I was honored that they would trust me with something like that. I believe that the retail auto industry can be insular," he says.
When Faulkner took the job in early 2009, "we had healthy fixed operations but were underperforming in sales," he says. The dealership sold 236 new vehicles that year, down from 266 in 2008.
By 2011, new-vehicle sales had grown to 479. Wood says he expects sales to grow to 550 this year and 600 by 2013.
Wood started in the F&I department of John Eagle Sport City Toyota in Dallas in 2003.
In 2005, he joined the Ethos Group, an F&I consulting group in Dallas, doing training in sales, F&I, management and leadership. He moved to Philadelphia in 2006 to manage the Faulkner Automotive Group account.
"From 2006 to early 2009, my major job was to help them sell more cars and make more money, especially when it came to the finance and insurance side," he says. Two of the family members offered Wood the job at their BMW dealership -- the only luxury franchise they own.
Wood says one of the major problems that he remedied was making sure employees knew what management expected. "I brought clear communication and the drive and ability to sit down with my employees and say how we are treating customers."
Says Wood: "It's all attitude. When you walk into a place, you are going to know it's a place where you like to spend your time and they're going to be grateful for the amount of money you spend, or if there is an arrogance or indifference."
-- Diana T. Kurylko