Smith, newly elected president of the Southeast region of the Nissan dealer advisory board, has focused on his Nissan stores because, he said, Nissan has the toughest performance objectives of the brands he sells.
But Nissan also offers the biggest payouts to those who hit them, he said. In 2015, the Nissan dealers who hit 100 percent of their objectives made $1 million net profit more than those who fell short, Smith said.
Combining payouts in the last quarter of 2014 and first quarter of this year, Smith earned $1.4 million from Nissan for hitting his numbers, he said. In contrast, he said, he earns about $25,000 per quarter in bonus cash from Kia and about $30,000 to $40,000 from Toyota.
Of his Nissan gains, he has reinvested more than $400,000 into his Nissan dealerships' people and advertising.
For example, Smith pays his service managers a bonus of $15,000 to $20,000 a year if the service departments hit the factory targets.
"Let your staff share in it," Smith said. "You've got to get their buy-in for it to work and money talks. People like reward."
In 2013, Smith began one of his first investments by hiring nine service valet greeters, three at each Nissan store's service drive. He armed them with iPads so they could immediately check in arriving customers and get them serviced quickly.
He also eliminated cashiers.
"Nissan told us if a customer had a conflict about their bill, they got frustrated having to wait for the service adviser to come to the cashier window to explain it," Smith said. "The service adviser does it all now. It eliminated a lot of the price issues."