General manager, Jaguar-Land Rover Norwood
Eddy Allen says enjoying what you do makes working hard a lot easier. But in auto retailing, specifically, two interests are key: cars and people.
“Outsiders don’t realize the people part. They think, ‘Oh, you love cars. That’s great,’ but that’s really only half of it,” said Allen, general manager of Kaplan Auto Group’s Jaguar Land Rover store in Norwood, Mass. “I really love interacting with people.”
Allen, who is also vice president of sales for Kaplan Auto Group, grew up around the dealership business and started washing cars at a young age. His grandfather, Jake, started the company, which is now owned by Allen’s mother, Sheree.
“When I started in sales, it wasn’t like I just kind of walked into a dealership for the first time,” he said. “I did have a lot of experience in terms of the different departments.”
As general manager — a position he’s held since 2018 — Allen has boosted the store’s morale, customer satisfaction and market penetration by focusing on teamwork, including making it a priority to set and monitor objectives and motivating employees to learn and excel to the next level.
“I think of it this way: I wake up every day, and I’m happy to go to work. How do you make that contagious?” Allen asked.
In part, it starts with having the right people in the right positions and forming a strong team, he said.
To do so, Allen changed the structure of the dealership by designating team leaders, captains, members, organizers and business managers as opposed to the traditional configuration of general sales manager, sales manager and so on.
The effort has enabled the store’s veteran employees — the team captains — to set an example for how to provide a consistent and transparent experience to customers and brought the management team together “on the same page,” Allen said.
In 2021, the store sold an average of 146 new and used vehicles per month, setting an overall store record in volume, despite inventory constraints.
Allen is quick to note that practices put in place at his store may not translate to all stores in the group because “no two stores are alike,” and you have to consider your specific environment and team.
“You have to look at yourself and continually learn, continually adapt with the business,” he said. “You have to be a student of what you do.”
— Audrey LaForest