John Secondo, 31
Retail operations manager, Mall of Georgia Mini
Achievement: Improved sales, reduced staff turnover at multiple Hendrick Automotive Group stores
Growing up in Wilmington, N.C., playing football and working in his parents' restaurant, John Secondo never thought about a career in automotive retail. But after graduating from college in 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession, a family friend in the dealership business called Secondo and persuaded him to give it a try.
Eight years later, Secondo is running Mall of Georgia Mini in suburban Atlanta and on the fast track at Hendrick Automotive Group. He no longer thinks about being a sports agent or going to law school.
"I'm committed to making this a career," said Secondo, who credits his success to good mentors, hard work and supporting his own staff.
After starting in sales, Secondo's work as a finance manager got him noticed. He finished one year as Hendrick's top finance producer companywide with $1.4 million of profit generated for his store. That put him on the management track and Secondo has moved through various roles of increasing responsibility.
In mid-2013, he became sales and finance director at a just-purchased Mazda dealership. After selling 60 vehicles per month under prior ownership, that number jumped to more than 220 in Secondo's final month there.
Secondo was then promoted to general sales manager at Hendrick's Chevrolet store in Duluth, Ga. The store finished No. 1 in net profit in the Hendrick network during Secondo's first full year in that role. However, slashing the sales-staff turnover rate by half, down to 26 percent, is Secondo's proudest accomplishment.
At the 2-year-old Mini store since August, Secondo is boosting used-car sales.
"We've turned the used-car department into a beast," Secondo said. It now sells 130-plus used vehicles a month, up from around 50. Secondo is bringing in more of the inventory that sells quickly, including a big stock of used BMWs.
The dealership sells 30 to 40 new Minis a month, and Secondo wants to get that number up. He notes the top Mini store in the country typically sells around 80 cars a month.
Getting creative with sales promotions and partnering with community groups is key, Secondo said. The store has forged a relationship with the county school system, offers discounts to teachers and supports school events.
If he continues to improve the store's results, Secondo, who wants to ultimately oversee multiple stores for Hendrick, could be in line for his next promotion.
"If we're competitive now, in the next few years we're going to turn that department around," Secondo said. "We're 50 away from being No. 1 in the country, which is a long 50, but we can get there."