General manager, Van Nuys Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram
While living in Los Angeles as a student, Raed Malaeb needed a way to pay the bills.
He typically paid less than $1,000 for beat-up, classic cars or other vehicles that needed work, had them repaired and then sold them for a profit using online sales tools such as Craigslist or eBay Motors. The effort was a variation of the business he helped build with his father as a teenager in Baissour, Lebanon, a short car ride from Beirut.
"It's my passion," said Malaeb, who commonly goes by "Reed" among friends and at the office. "I love cars."
Malaeb relocated from Lebanon to the U.S. in 2009 to obtain a master's degree in global management from the University of Phoenix. Today, he is general manager of Van Nuys Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in California, part of BN Dealerships Group. It's a position he has held for the past two-and-a half years out of nearly five years at the store.
Malaeb started on the sales floor in 2013 at another BN store, Universal City Nissan in Los Angeles, before segueing into the Internet sales manager role there.
As general manager at Van Nuys, he has focused on training and development programs to not only help retention at the dealership but to help boost sales, something he sees as more valuable than advertising alone.
"If you focus on working on mentoring those people to be better people and look at the business from a different perspective, they will automatically rise and sell more and be good to your customers, and the customer retention will be high," he said.
Those efforts paid off in January when his store sold 291 new vehicles, reaching No. 1 in the country for Stellantis' new-vehicle sales for the month, according to the automaker. Malaeb said that was a milestone for the dealership.
Malaeb focuses training on using technology to boost efficiency and reach younger customers. Among other initiatives, he started using artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT to help salespeople personalize responses to inquiries, as well as TikTok and Instagram to sell cars.
"I try to find moms that are influential on Instagram, and I bring them to the dealership," he said.
— Mark Hollmer