Brad Sweet, 37
Service director, Fred Beans Auto Group
It’s a long road from pushing a mop at a Midas muffler shop at 19 to running the service operations for a Philadelphia-area dealership group with 20 stores by age 35. But through a knack for bonding with customers, old-fashioned hustle and a strong work ethic, Brad Sweet traveled it quickly.
Sweet wasn’t a gearhead growing up, and he says he probably couldn’t easily tell the difference between an oil pan and a frying pan when he started. He was struggling through college when a friend suggested he apply at a local Midas muffler store, where he was given $10 an hour and a mop. His break came when his friend, a technician at the store, observed Sweet’s interaction with customers.
The technician soon was asking Sweet to call customers and explain what was wrong with their vehicles.
“He didn’t care for the adviser and management team,” Sweet said of his technician friend. “He didn’t think they were very good at selling his repair jobs. And he would pull me aside when I was cleaning and say, ‘I checked this car out, and this is what it needs. I want you to get on the phone and say this to the customer.’ He kind of taught me to sell jobs,” Sweet recalled.
Two quick promotions at Midas that saw the $10-an-hour job morph into a $60,000-a-year career derailed Sweet’s college ambitions. Then he applied for dealership service adviser jobs, first at an Infiniti dealership and then at a Volkswagen store. Sweet realized he could excel by doing simple things, such as hustling to answer the phone on the first ring, communicating clearly with customers and making it as convenient as possible for customers to bring their cars in for service.
Those strategies and others, such as empowering employees to make decisions on their own, have helped Sweet rapidly increase the profitability of Fred Beans’ service operations, which employee about 300 people. Sweet estimates that he puts in about 55 hours a week. Family life takes up much of his time away from work. He coaches his sons’ football team, and his daughter dances competitively. Sweet’s immediate goals are to finish his marketing degree and to attend the National Automobile Dealers Association dealer academy.
— Richard Truett