Mike Altieri, 39
Fixed operations director, Prime Automotive Group
When you are in charge of all aspects of the fixed operations departments in 41 dealerships, it helps to be humble, Mike Altieri will tell you.
The fixed ops director for Prime Automotive Group in Westwood, Mass., knows a thing or two about being humble, which helped him overcome a major setback early in his career. Back then, Altieri tried managing his people with an iron fist. But it was Altieri who got knocked out.
“When I was 21 years old, I was a service adviser/assistant manager in a downtown Boston store. I was young and dumb, and I thought I was better than I was. My head got too big,” he recalled.
“I was very close with the service manager. I had followed him from one dealer to another. One day, he told me things weren’t working out, and he let me go. That was probably the worst day I had in the business.”
Now, Altieri views getting fired from that gig as one of the best things that could have happened to him. It’s an episode he has never forgotten, and he credits it for his career taking off.
“I think a lot of reflection on my past has helped me along the way. I continually put myself in the shoes of the service manager, adviser or technician and say to myself: ‘How would I want to be coached? How would I want to be trained?’ I look back at the managers I’ve worked with and think, ‘Who did I like? Who didn’t I like? Who helped me? Who coached me? Why did I listen to them?’ ”
Altieri, a rabid New England Patriots fan — and a fan of Tom Brady; his son is named Brady — believes success comes from consistency. That means hiring employees with the personality traits that fit the company’s culture. It means training them properly; keeping the team informed with clear, consistent communication; and creating a workplace that makes employees want to stay long term. Altieri believes happy employees can create happy customers who keep coming back for service, even after their vehicles’ warranties expire.
Altieri also knows from his early days working at Jiffy Lube that speed and convenience are important to service customers. One of the philosophies he instills in his staff is that service personnel should communicate with customers the same way they would with their own parents. He encourages them to text and send videos. “It’s how we should be communicating with our clients,” he said.
Altieri has established a solid record of increasing sales, revenue and profits at each store he has worked in.
And the service manager who fired Altieri nearly 20 years ago? There’s a bit more to that story.
“I invited him to my wedding. And, truth be told, he works for me in one of the stores,” Altieri said. “I highly respected him for what he did. Ultimately, that helped me. It was the slap in the face that I needed to push me forward in this business.”
— Richard Truett