Josh Harris, 32
General manager, Toyota of Wausau
Achievement: Steered Toyota of Wausau to become a disciplined, price-transparent store, more than quadrupling profits
Josh Harris is a by-the-book, by-the-numbers kind of leader.
"I manage a store by the numbers, whether it comes to pay plans or expenses," Harris said. "I put very little emotion into it. I look at the guides and benchmarks and where we need to be and that's how I manage operations."
The disciplined, efficient approach helped to more than quadruple Toyota of Wausau's profitability since Harris became general manager at the beginning of 2012. Harris knows exactly what pushed revenue up 54 percent over the same period: an upfront and flexible sale process and a close focus on fixed operations and marketing methods.
Since Harris stepped into the position, he's worked to adapt the store to market-based vehicle pricing, nixing inflated prices and negotiations. Whether someone is in the store, online or "200 miles away," Harris says, transparent pricing helps customers put the deal together quickly with an employee and show up at the store to see the car, sign the paperwork and leave.
"In this market, we're not quite to the point where people want the car delivered to their doorstep, but we need to be a chameleon, and whatever they want us to do I'm willing to do," Harris said.
"It's taken some time to get the staff to transition their mindset so it's not 'You've got to come in to get the best price.' "
Harris now compensates his sales staff a flat amount per vehicle instead of a commission percentage.
Harris grew up under the watchful eye of Jason Brickl, the Toyota store dealer principal and CEO of Ballweg Automotive Family, of Middleton, Wis. Brickl saw Harris' potential at 17 years old and groomed him for leadership.
The day Harris turned 18, Brickl handed over his Corvette keys so Harris could go pick up his sales license. Brickl later watched Harris become the youngest Toyota general manager of record at the time, approved by Toyota in 2014 when he was 29.
For the past eight years in a row, including five under Harris, the dealership has won Toyota's prestigious President's Award, which takes into account sales efficiency, CSI scores and profitability.
Stephanie Hernandez McGavin