Fixed operations director, Jeff Wyler Honda
Ryan Mutalib's email signature includes the quote: "Leadership is not about being the best. It is about making everyone around you better."
Mutalib, fixed operations director at Jeff Wyler Honda of Colerain, a Cincinnati suburb, embraces that management mantra.
"I heard it from someone I met at a conference about a year ago in Los Angeles," Mutalib said of the phrase. "I thought it was pretty cool because it embodied my management philosophy, which until then I never knew how to put into words.
"It really hit home."
Mutalib's desire to help others — whether it's members of his team or customers — has informed most of his career. Whether it was working at age 14 at a diner in his hometown of Westchester, Pa., periodic stints as a bartender or his first professional job as a motorcycle-repair technician at a Kawasaki dealership in California, providing great customer service always served as his guiding North Star.
"I literally grew up in the service industry," he said. "If I can cook someone a meal or make their experience as a customer more amazing, it makes me happy. Their joy is my reward.
"I was really attracted to the automotive industry because I could work with my hands and make people happy," he added. "It gives me a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction."
While Mutalib doesn't turn wrenches as often as he once did, he said he still gets praise from colleagues for "working in the trenches" with them — whether that means working on a repair with a technician, writing up service orders or handling customers.
"I'm always striving to help everyone around me become better overall," he said.
Along with his penchant for providing great customer service, Mutalib said his belief in following consistent processes and protocols also contributes to his success. When he worked in the dealer development department of American Honda Motor Co. in Santa Barbara, Calif., he learned about a quality-control process known as the PDCA cycle: Plan, Do, Check and Act. He has championed it ever since.
"In other words, you develop a plan, try it out, check to see if it works and then adjust as needed," he said. "A good, solid process allows you to bring people in and help them succeed because they know what to do and what's expected of them."
One of Mutalib's proudest career achievements centers on a canine and liquor. More specifically, it's a sculpture of a bulldog named Whiskey — a traveling trophy created by the Chris Collins consulting firm, which the Jeff Wyler Automotive Family hired about five years ago.
Each month, Whiskey travels to the store in the Jeff Wyler Automotive Family with the most profitable service department. (The auto group owns 37 rooftops in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.) Last year, Whiskey was a frequent dealership visitor, residing at Jeff Wyler Honda for seven out of 12 months, Mutalib said.
"It's been really cool for me to see the growth in the five years I've been working here," he said, noting that the service department notched a 12 percent net increase in profit last year compared with 2021.
"We've been hiring 18- and 19-year-old kids and developing them with training and now some of them are about to become Honda-certified master technicians," he said. "It all ties back to my philosophy of helping everyone become better, which has helped us build a really solid team that enjoys working together and doing the job we need to do for our customers."
— Ken Wysocky