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Auto retailing thrives on new. New vehicles. New marketing methods and advertising campaigns. And new blood. Meet the men and women who make up the fourth annual Automotive News listing of 40 Under 40 Retail: 40 up-and-comers who already are making their mark in dealerships. These individuals are applying the lessons of the past with the techniques of today to carry vehicle retailing into the future. And they're delivering astounding results.

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Matthew Hoffman

AGE:38
POSITION:Vice president, Hoffman Auto Group, East Hartford, Conn.

Matthew Hoffman is on a mission to boost used-car sales and make them more profitable at his family-owned automotive enterprise.

Used-car volume at the group has grown 19 percent in the past four years, and F&I gross profit on those vehicles jumped 50 percent because of improved pricing and better Internet posts, Hoffman said.

Last year, Hoffman Auto Group sold 2,954 used vehicles -- more than half its new-vehicle volume of 5,178 units.

The group has 10 franchises with stores in East Hartford, New London and West Simsbury, Conn. Matthew Hoffman, 38, runs Toyota-Scion, Honda and Nissan stores in West Simsbury that sold 2,573 new vehicles last year -- about half the group's volume -- and 1,327 used cars.

After Hoffman overhauled the group's used-car fleet, the dealerships are making better purchases and turning inventory faster. "We have been car dealers since 1921," he said. "Instead of saying, 'Buy the best used cars and make a profit,' you have to analyze what you are buying" and make sure you have the right employees.

"We used to carry a lot more off makes. Now 80 to 90 percent are certified pre-owned," Hoffman said.

He streamlined the business using a software pricing tool called vAuto and appointed an inventory coordinator to take and post 35 to 40 pictures of each used vehicle.

Using a scorecard, the group studies the metrics monthly to assess "how fast we are turning our vehicles, how we are taking in trades and how we are retailing the cars," Hoffman said. 

"It is a friendly competition to push each store to do better each month." 

Hoffman also tackled improving customer service at the Honda and Toyota stores. He said the Honda store has won the brand's national president's award for two of the four years he has been in charge. Only 10 percent of Honda dealers win nationally, and the award had eluded Hoffman Honda for most of the 39 years the family has held the franchise, he said. 

Profits at the Honda store have risen 24 percent since he took over, Hoffman said. 

The Toyota store won that brand's national president's award three out of the four years he has headed it, Hoffman said. He said net profit grew 56 percent from 2010 to 2014.

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