Todd Reed, 38
General manager, Rick Hendrick Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram
Todd Reed got peer-pressured into the auto business.
“My best friend got into the car business in the mid-90s and did very well,” Reed said. “He kinda coerced me into moving from Ohio to Jacksonville and getting into the car business. He told me magnificent stories of fast money and good times.”
Reed has no regrets about his impulsive decision nearly two decades ago.
A people person, Reed relishes the daily interaction with employees and customers that goes with managing an auto dealership.
Auto retailing is less about selling sheet metal than it is about selling an experience, Reed said.
“That comes from happy employees,” he said. “If the employees are well taken care of, they give customers a much better experience.”
Reed joined Rick Hendrick Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in 2013 as the subprime finance director.
Four years later, he had worked his way up to general manager and has since turned around the money-losing store. Last year, the Duluth, Ga., dealership reported $1,267,664 in profit, vs. $1,262,852 in losses in 2017.
The turnaround hinged on growing new-car sales and service department revenues. New-car sales surged from 1,048 units in 2017 to 1,427 units last year.
“We have a much better selection of vehicles to choose from compared to a very narrow selection of vehicles in prior years,” Reed said.
On the fixed-ops side, Reed increased service adviser training and boosted the number of technicians by 30 percent, giving the dealership capacity to do more service work.
Under Reed’s watch, the store is adapting to a changing auto retail landscape, where much of the car shopping process is done over the Internet, and where startups such as Carvana challenge the traditional dealership model.
Reed has moved away from direct mailers and radio advertising and focused the marketing budget on digital channels such as Facebook.
“More than 80 percent of people who come into the store start the car-buying process online,” Reed said.
“We focus on taking care of our digital showroom every bit as much as we focus on taking care of our actual showroom.”
Reed remains close to the childhood friend who convinced the college dropout to take a gamble on the auto business.
Both now manage Hendrick stores in metro Atlanta.
“Working alongside your best friend for so long has made the tough times in the car business a little easier," Reed said, “and the great times just a little bit better.”
— Urvaksh Karkaria