Carmelo Giuffre focuses on customer satisfaction. This is one of the key elements to his successful business.
Giuffre is president of 14 thriving dealerships in New York and New Jersey, and one in Fort Pierce, Fla. The New York dealerships are primarily in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, which is the hub of the operations, and extend into Fordham, Manhattan, and Westchester.
Lexus of Manhattan, recently opened on 57th Street and 11th Avenue, houses the corporate headquarters. Giuffre operates his imposing business holdings with the other most important element to his success, family.
Aided by three executive vice presidents made up of his nephew John Iacono and sons, John and Ignazio Giuffre, the elder Giuffre sells and satisfies buyers of a variety of nameplates - from Hyundai to Lexus.
Concentrating on customer satisfaction as the fundamental aim of his business, Giuffre has met with great success. In fact, Giuffre's outlook for the future of any dealership is that success is critically dependent on customer satisfaction. With the No. 1 Toyota dealership in New York City, Bay Ridge Toyota, he is well aware of how to achieve success.
He is satisfied with the way the Consumer Satisfaction Index is compiled for dealers. Giuffre said his dealerships do whatever it takes to please and give customers 'any kind of satisfaction' they desire.
Giuffre's dealerships high performance overall on the Consumer Satisfaction Index give him confidence and an edge in the industry.
In fact, as a Jeep-Eagle dealer, Giuffre sees Chrysler Corp's planned reduction of dealers by the year 2000 as a positive move.
'There are too many dealers,' he said, and the plan is aimed at reducing those who are 'weak on CSI' and at keeping those that 'do what satisfies customers.'
Sales for the dealerships rose to $431 million in 1995, up from $351 million in 1994. New-car sales of 9,218 units in 1994 rose to 11,277 in 1995, and new-truck unit sales were 1,811, up from 1,670 in 1994.
The family of dealerships sells and services all models of Lexus, Lincoln, Mercury, Honda, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, Jeep and Eagle.
Giuffre attributes his success to 'hard work' and 'a beautiful family in back of me.' By this he means the three men, now executive vice presidents, he trained to carry on his business and his legacy. Also behind him, and working in the business, are his two daughters, and several nieces and nephews. Other relatives and friends are also involved in the business.
Giuffre talks to customers every day, and emphasizes that he is 'personally available.' Giuffre contends that he, John Iacono or one of his sons can always be found to attend to a customer's needs.
The nearly 800 employees will certainly vouch for the family atmosphere that is part of Giuffre's business style, with lengths of service spanning decades and generations of family members working throughout the dealerships and related businesses.
Three of the five Bay Ridge dealerships make up a compound that spans almost three city blocks. Nearby, at the Bay Ridge Lincoln-Mercury dealership, is a car rental agency.
Born and raised in Ragusa, Sicily, where he 'grew up with cars' Giuffre recalls his father, 'who repaired and sold cars,' and gave him training and guidance. Giuffre worked as an auto mechanic in Italy and then came to the United States in 1957. Arriving with just $61 in his pocket, he lived with his aunt and worked hard, initially washing cars to earn a living.
Giuffre saved money and opened his first dealership, selling Simcas, in January 1962. An Alfa Romeo dealership soon followed. The biggest thrust of expansion came in the 1980s when, with his nephew and sons ready and able, the business grew in size and stature.
Carmelo Giuffre's unassuming charm and inspiring example of hard work and resolve motivate the staff to achieve, and the business to flourish.