2018 40 Under 40
Christopher Berlin, 33
Director of operations for 13 luxury stores in California, Ferrari-Maserati
Achievement: Created an analysis tool that helped a dealership group's new-vehicle operations achieve a six-figure gain in annual profit.
For Christopher Berlin, achieving a six-figure annual profit gain for new-vehicle operations came down to accounting for every dealership cost, even the coffee."This business is cyclical, but it does have a certain level of loaded variation month to month, year to year, affected by variables outside the four walls of a dealership," he said.Berlin, director of operations for a 13-store group with rooftops in California and the Washington, D.C., area, created a profit analysis tool that sparked restructuring plans for the group and led to the six-figure annual profit gain on the new-car side.Berlin wanted the group to focus on unit cost and cash flow to determine what he says is a more accurate profit-per-vehicle evaluation.The dealership group uses the tool to make decisions on budgeting, pay plans and allocation planning, he said. Berlin's route to automotive retail was winding, with pit stops in industries such as film, investment banking and health care.In 2014, after Berlin left a health care company he founded, he saw an ad in The Washington Post for a sales manager position at Maserati of Arlington, in Virginia. Berlin says he applied for the job, but the interview went poorly. After all, he had never worked in a dealership. But his blank slate became his greatest strength. Though he didn't get that job, the group's dealer principal, Bill Story, took Berlin under his wing.Over the next three years, Berlin worked directly for Story at the Newport Beach location learning the ins and outs of the business. Berlin's early responsibilities involved strategic analysis. When bidding for a Porsche point, Berlin led staff as a market manager. Tapping into his experience in banking and acquisitions, he worked with a team compiling market data to build financial models. The group didn't get the point, but his work ultimately paid off. He was promoted to used-car director at Ferrari-Maserati of Newport Beach in January 2017. In December 2017, Berlin became director of operations for the group.Since joining the company, Berlin's analytical skills have not only improved the new-vehicle business, but have helped Ferrari-Maserati of Newport Beach more than triple used-vehicle sales on his watch between December 2016 and December 2017, bumping the group's used-vehicle sales 20 percent during the period.