A great dealership needs to be able to understand the customer, as well as the evolution of the industry.
When Mario Solis was asked if he’d like to make the move into fleet from leasing, he wasn’t 100% sure what he was signing up for, but he’s glad he said yes. “I enjoy it,” he admits. “With the fleet side of the business, there’s always a challenge because every customer has a different need, a different product or a different upfit. It keeps the business enjoyable.
“I always specialized in big trucks because I like the truck business. That’s the main reason they asked me, ‘Mario, do you want to take over the fleet department?’ So I did.”
Currently, Solis is the Commercial Fleet Manager at Barrie Chrysler in Barrie, Ontario. He has been in the industry for over two decades and has seen his fair share of change. “I started in the car business in 1994, so it’s been a few years,” he says. “A lot has changed. The rules have changed. Customers are very well-informed these days, and everything is more transparent.”
And while there’s a lot of talk about vehicle sales moving online, Solis isn’t convinced. “I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he says. “I think, in this business, you’re always going to need a person you can talk to. I think because of the size of the purchases you make, it is important that you have two people involved in the sale.”
Attention to detail
And it’s his focus on doing business with a human touch, along with a dedication to the customer, that sets Solis apart from the pack. “I pay a lot of attention to details,” he explains. “By that I mean making sure that the customer is happy, making sure that they get the product they want and need, and not making mistakes.”
Over his many years in the business, Solis says he has seen how a lack of attention to detail can lead to upset customers when things simply aren’t done right. Sometimes the wrong vehicle is ordered, or something is changed at the time of delivery, creating an inconvenience for the customer. Solis says you have to manage all those details carefully, “so that you have a customer that is happy and wants to come back.”
Too many options
While variety and choice are generally a good thing, when it comes to choosing the right fleet vehicle, Solis says that sometimes too many choices can confuse a customer. That’s why he feels it’s important to help his customers make sense of it all and to guide them through the decision-making process.
“There are too many options,” he adds. “I get customers in my office who say, ‘Help me narrow this down because there are too many options.’ So we try to make it easy and narrow it down to what we see the customer really needs.”
As complex as the automotive world may be, and as well-informed as today’s customers seem to be, Solis believes his formula for success is simple: treat the customer well, do things in a professional way, and take care of their needs. “At the end of the day,” he adds, “once you finish the process and deliver the vehicles, you get a customer for life.”