Tamir Khalil, 34
Part owner and general manager, Forest Lake Auto Group
Tamir Khalil’s parents wanted him to become a doctor or lawyer. Instead, he became his car salesman father’s boss.
Khalil didn’t get his sales manager job by going against his parents’ wishes. His father got him the job by accident.
“I came home [from college] to help my dad deliver some cars, so he could help my brother set up for his wedding,” Khalil said. “My dad’s general manager at the time asked me to continue delivering cars for a week, and at the end of the week he offered me the job. As a 19-year-old, I couldn’t deny a six-figure job, so I drove back to school, packed my stuff and came home.”
Khalil’s parents were upset that their second-to-youngest son dropped out of college to work in automotive, so to make them feel better, he vowed to become a general manager by age 35 and a dealership owner by 40.
He ended up achieving both by age 34.
Khalil became general manager of Forest Lake Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Minnesota in March 2017, at a time when the store was underperforming and suffering from turnover in several departments. He had initial doubts about the store, but he couldn’t abandon the potential he saw, so he began planning its turnaround.
Khalil implemented a “don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle” strategy in which every employee, including managers, sparked a conversation with walk-in customers intended to excite them.
He also installed a policy that the salespeople are the store’s priority, leading weekly manager meetings that stressed the importance of respecting and appreciating sales staffers. Khalil said he created the policy because he understands how difficult a sales job can be, and he wants salespeople to be recognized for their efforts.
“I am an extreme salesperson advocate,” he said. “I believe that if you retain salespeople, you in turn retain customers.
“As I learned the fixed business, I came to the conclusion that it is the same for advisers and techs. We make sure we compensate them well above the competition and treat them with respect and dignity.”
Khalil also motivated employees by introducing digital products that eased working with shoppers.
Customers felt encouraged to give feedback when he posted flyers throughout the store that included his picture and contact information.
His management strategies propelled Forest Lake Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram from 11th in the state to the top three for its performance in 2017 and 2018, Khalil said. Meanwhile, customer satisfaction scores rose 30 percent to the top three as well, he said.
Khalil’s success at the Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram dealership landed him the opportunity to be general manager of Forest Lake Chevrolet-Cadillac in April 2017.
And in June 2018, he became part owner of both stores.
— Danielle Szatkowski