Mike Farrell, 34
General manager, Island Auto Group
Achievement: Doubled sales at an FCA dealership through consistent messages, strong customer service
Mike Farrell takes a no-nonsense approach to marketing, despite a long stretch at one of the nation's most razzle-dazzle dealerships.
"Customer service is the No. 1 thing," Farrell said. "If you've got good product, and stand by it, and don't change your message — that's how you get your point across to people."
Farrell is responsible for two stores — selling Mitsubishi and Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles — for the nine-dealership Island Auto Group on New York's Staten Island. He previously worked at the former Brad Benson Hyundai in South Brunswick, N.J., for 12 years, including seven as general manager.
Brad Benson, who sold the dealership in 2015, is a former professional football player for the New York Giants. Benson, now a motivational speaker, was his own spokesman in wacky advertising, mostly on the radio, that made the dealership one of Hyundai's biggest-volume stores.
Benson's website says the ads had "irreverent humor and gritty bravado." That's one way to put it. In one ad, he bought a salvaged goal post from Giants Stadium, installed it at the dealership and called it his "40-foot erection."
Farrell doesn't use that kind of advertising. "That was more Brad's thing," he said. Rather, Farrell's ad philosophy is to stick to a single, consistent message via traditional media, direct mail and social media. One of his main themes is "Car Buying Is Better This Side of the Bridge" — that is, on Staten Island.
"The misconception is customers think they can get a better deal in Jersey. That's how the island's reputation is. But we can match any number any dealership in Jersey gives you," Farrell said. The dealership even pays bridge tolls for customers who come in from New Jersey, he said.
Since he joined the Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram store in April 2016, sales have roughly doubled to more than 250 units per month, new and used. He said the Mitsubishi store, which he took over earlier this year, is off to a good start.
"In my opinion, what's driving traffic is based off of duplicating touches. We follow a pattern in traditional, in digital, in mail campaigns, with the exact same message. The same consumer may get it five different times but with the same message," he said. "And then once they come in, they're treated right."