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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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Marcus Williams

AGE:38
POSITION:General manager, Bob Stallings Hyundai, Dallas

When Marcus Williams became general manager of the newly acquired Bob Stallings Hyundai Inc. last August, the store's fixed operations were virtually "nonexistent," he recalled. There had been little effort to market the service department, and the dealership was not visible from the nearby freeway.

So Williams stepped up promotion of the store's service department by requiring its three service advisers to each set up at least 10 appointments per day with Hyundai vehicle owners for routine maintenance and recall repairs.

Williams also helped oversee the building of a 28,000-square-foot dealership on the same property but in a higher-visibility spot.

The payoff?

"Our customer satisfaction in the service department moved up from the bottom 25 percent to the top 5 percent in our region for Hyundai," Williams said. "It took some time, but now we're steadily climbing."

Starting this year, the number of service appointments made by advisers increased to 12 per day.

Williams said that when he started in the business in 1997 as a used-car salesman at Lute Riley Honda near Dallas, he learned customer-handling processes that he uses and teaches his sales staff to this day. He stresses that sales staff promptly greet customers, listen as customers tell them about their transportation needs and then acknowledge what the customer tells them.

"Basically, you're just a consultant," he said of his salespeople.

Williams frequently works transactions with salespeople from start to finish. It helps the staff stay on track and enables him to get to know his customers and keep his finger on the pulse of changing customer preferences, he said.

He also makes sure that he or a manager speaks to every sales and service customer at the dealership.

"We want to ensure that their experience was above reproach and for them to know that management is actively involved in every transaction at the dealership," he said.

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