Michael Aguilar, 32
Director of marketing and guest experience, Mark Miller Subaru
Michael Aguilar has two goals each day he goes to work.
Aguilar, director of marketing and guest experience at Mark Miller Subaru, which has two stores in the Salt Lake City area, wants to sell and service the most Subarus in Utah and make the world a better place.
Those might seem like tall and unrelated tasks, but Aguilar’s background in the nonprofit sector, combined with sharp marketing ideas, allows him to focus on them together.
Prior to joining Mark Miller Subaru more than four years ago, Aguilar worked as a program director for the Ronald McDonald House in Salt Lake City. While he was there, the charity interacted with the dealership. Impressed by Aguilar’s work there, Mark Miller Subaru ownership asked him to join the company and lead its marketing efforts.
With a master’s degree in leadership, Aguilar leaned on his academic background and knowledge of the inner workings of a nonprofit to create partnerships with organizations in Salt Lake City. Being involved in the community has become a marketing hallmark for Mark Miller Subaru and allows the dealership to be top of mind for consumers since it supports a variety of charities.
“Every year, we choose six organizations that we then make much larger gifts to throughout the course of the year,” Aguilar said. “We essentially go deep with the organizations instead of going wide with our resources. This is important because we’re developing relationships that are much more thought out and intentional.”
When he joined the dealership, Aguilar developed a relationship with the local Volunteers of America office. As a result, the organization now drives Subaru Imprezas and Foresters across Utah, offering services to homeless people, he said.
“By going deep we’ve been able to help them secure 34 vehicles, and we’re also more commonly known and associated with Volunteers of America in the community and among their staff, volunteers and supporters,” he said.
“By going deep we’re able to amplify the Mark Miller message. That is a really powerful thing for us and an essential part of our marketing strategy to ensure that we’re being efficient with our spends.”
The supported organizations then share messages tied to Mark Miller Subaru.
“I’m all about engaging community or nonprofit organizations and their followers,” Aguilar said. “I started this revamped program back a few years ago when we were losing [in sales] to our closest competitor, and now we beat them. I know it’s working and it resonates with our buyers and the community.”
Aguilar also was instrumental in setting up a concierge service program in late 2017. When a customer needs service, the dealership sends an employee to pick up and then return the vehicle. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the program became crucial to generating business for the two stores and has kept the service departments at capacity.
“We’re relying a lot on our pickup and drop-offs,” he said, noting that there were around 2,000 individual trips between the two locations in May.
“All of our messaging out in the market is related to pickup and drop-off service and we’ve seen record-breaking inbound calls, site visits and online appointments,” he said. “People are really responding to the messaging.”
-— Jack Walsworth