Jason Kopp, who took over BMW-Mini of Dallas at the start of 2015, doesn't consider himself a turnaround artist, but the numbers make a pretty good argument on their own.
Kopp raised new-vehicle volume to nearly 2,400 vehicles last year from just over 2,200 in 2014. Market share got a bump to 33 percent from 31 percent, and store profitability jumped 25 percent.
One area where he has particularly shone is increasing pre-owned sales at the AutoNation dealership. On arriving, Kopp pored over reports to see where the dealership was missing out on business and found that the used-car lot had been keeping only pre-owned BMWs and Minis. He decided that diversifying would help the store appear in search engines and allow customers to cross-shop different makes. Pre-owned sales rose 38 percent last year vs. 2014.
But numbers are only part of the story. Kopp also had some team-building to do and knew where that had to happen. "One of my goals every day is to only spend an hour in the office doing paperwork and going over reports, and the rest of the time is out shaking hands with customers, employees," said Kopp.
His attitude toward relationships with customers is pretty straightforward: Keep your promises.
"They want a good product, they want a decent price, and they want great customer service," he said.
At first, Kopp struggled to settle into the industry that he now seems made for.
Before college, he worked at a small Ford dealership in Victoria, Texas, where his uncle Joe Verhey had worked for many years and helped him learn the art of the deal. Kopp enjoyed the thrill of it. After college, in 2000, he decided he wanted to make auto retailing his career and applied to the largest Ford dealership in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
"They didn't even give me a chance to interview," he said. "I went dealership to dealership until someone saw something in me and gave me a shot."
Kopp learned by watching the best salespeople, but he always remembers the lessons from his first job. "My uncle has always been a true inspiration to me. We are like best friends and have carried on a business relationship all of my career."