Jeremy Swartz, 38
Director of variable operations, Spitzer Automotive
Achievement: Took five dealerships and within a year increased collective new and used unit volume 20 percent and raised their net profit
Some of the best career advice Jeremy Swartz got when he became a salesman at Spitzer Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge in Homestead, Fla., was simply this: Ask a customer a question such as "Is that your trade?" or "What do you like about the car you are driving?"
Then shut up and listen.
"Don't sit there and talk about the weather for 5 or 10 minutes," the Spitzer Automotive director of variable operations recalls being told by a colleague who was a top salesperson at the group. "They know you sell cars, so if you listen to them they'll tell you how to sell them a car. If we keep it simple, the rest will take care of itself."
"Keep it simple" is a philosophy that helped underpin Swartz's nine-year career at the 13-dealership Spitzer Automotive owned by Swartz's father-in-law, Alan Spitzer.
Swartz held many management positions over the years, including sales manager and finance and insurance manager. He became the group's director of variable operations in late 2013.
But it was when he became general manager of Spitzer Motor City, the group's used-car store in late 2010 that he really spread his wings.
Over the next two years, Swartz upgraded the store's computer systems, implemented the vAuto used-vehicle management tool and trained employees so he could promote from within.
At the same time, his team grew to more than 50 employees from 10, tripled its unit sales and was "very profitable," in his words, vs. just breaking even before.
"The parts manager and the service manager, I'm happy to say, are still there and I'm proud of the people working there that we hired initially," Swartz said.
When he was promoted to his current post, Swartz focused on five stores.
He provided employees with tools such as training, customer relationship management systems and data mining technology, and held them accountable to meet expectations they set for themselves.
Over the following year, Swartz and his team increased those stores' collective new and used unit volume by 20 percent while also increasing their net profits.
Swartz's multiple goals are to complete his degree in accounting, earn an MBA and "to keep our stores performing to our high standards of volume and bottom line profit and grow our footprint by a store a year through acquisition."