Fixed operations technology process manager, Qvale Auto Group
Drew Benson is the glue man.
He views his roll-up-the-sleeves management style and strong work ethic as the glue that helps hold Volkswagen of Brandon in suburban Tampa, Fla., together as it battles through labor shortages, rolls out new technology and as it transitions service customers to digital transactions.
“So, I’m the kind of guy who goes out and gets his hands dirty. If someone calls in sick, or an adviser leaves to go somewhere else, if a department needs me, I will go there. I can’t let the progress we’ve made slip, so I work each position to the best of my ability. I always tell everyone: I’m available to help if you need me.”
That progress includes double-digit increases in revenue, gross profit, customer satisfaction, and most importantly, customer-pay repairs, all in less than two years.
He introduced a contactless and transparent digital service process that includes texting, online payments and digital multipoint inspections with technician videos. The system is designed to keep the customer in control of their entire service visit using their phones, from setting the appointment to picking up their cars.
Benson, originally from New Hampshire, did not grow up enamored of automobiles. He tinkered with go carts, dirt bikes and off-road all-terrain vehicles. He landed at a Mercedes-Benz store in Miami right after college and began his automotive career as a valet. It didn’t take him long to spot inefficiencies and start asking questions.
Four things drive Benson: the quest for better customer service, constant improvement in fixed ops, treating people like he wants to be treated and teaching his team to buy into the new processes the stores have instituted — perhaps the toughest aspect of his job.
“You’ve got to train everybody, not just the service advisers, but the parts department, technicians, and they are some of the most stubborn people I have met,” he says. Benson recalled how difficult it was persuading technicians to take videos so the store could show customers suggested work was justified.
“That’s where the magic happens. You’re asking the employee to do something he’s never done before, but then you can see their eyes light up and you can see the competition in the shop. It takes time to get all these things implemented, but then you start having all these little wins and everyone gets it.”
Benson, who enjoys spending time with his children and golfing in his spare time, said he derives much of his motivation from his boyhood hero, NFL quarterback Tom Brady. “I always look to Tom Brady and how he tries to perfect greatness.”
If Benson has a motto it is this: “The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.”
— Richard Truett