Alex Park, 39
Dealer principal, Crestmont Cadillac
Achievement: Steered his Cadillac store to its best year ever in 2016 by empowering his staff to offer transparent prices and to show genuine customer care.
Alex Park compares the overwhelming amount of online information while car shopping to sitting down with an empty stomach and an endless menu at the Cheesecake Factory.
Park's fear is that the server isn't much help when it comes time to order.
"There's so much information out there," Park said. "So when the customer comes through the door, they're still so over-informed. Our job is to use the same technology to help them make the right decision."
Park has equipped his sales team with iPads to help customers through the sale from beginning to end, starting with a visit to Kelley Blue Book with the customer to appraise his or her vehicle for trade-in. His team's core focus on transparent pricing and genuine customer care helped steer his Cadillac store to its best year ever in 2016.
Year-over-year profits surged 25 percent — a tough feat in a luxury market in which he has seen a customer trade in a Cadillac and a Lexus for two Hyundai Sonatas. "You don't need to buy a luxury car to have a nice car," he said.
Unlike most dealers' children, Park doesn't have a lifetime of experience on which to draw. He stayed as far from the auto industry as possible, never working in his father's dealership in high school or college so he could avert the "boss's kid" title.
It wasn't until after college and seven years of working in Manhattan that Park returned home to work at his dad's Cadillac store in 2006 with an unofficial title.
He attributes his success as a leader to the years after 2009, when he watched his dad fight for sales. His father "rolled up his sleeves and got in the trenches with us."
Good habits are formed in bad times, Park says, but more importantly, so are strong employees who keep bad habits from creeping in.
"One of our focuses has been to empower everyone on the front line because at the end of the day, I'm not going to sell or service any cars," Park said. "So we empower all of these great people to come do their job and take care of our customers."
Stephanie Hernandez McGavin