Dave Ramirez likes to stay busy, and maintaining his average of 18 vehicles a month while serving as a backup sales manager at Herbies Auto Sales in Greeley, Colo., certainly keeps him on the go.
Ramirez has been in sales for quite a few years but didn’t start out selling cars. After serving four years in the Navy, he worked for a lumber yard for almost 14 years, where he worked his way up to being an outside lumber salesman. When the building industry in northern Colorado began going downhill, his older brother suggested he try his hand at car sales. At that time, his brother was the service manager at Weld County Garage (where Ramirez worked as a lot tech in college and the sister company of Herbies Auto Sales, both owned by father-and-son team Lee and Warren Yoder).
It was a notion that Ramirez initially laughed off and said, “I’m not a car guy. I really don’t know much about cars. I know they’ve got a motor, [and] I know where to put the gas.” However, he heeded his brother’s advice and ended up selling cars at a couple of franchise dealerships for about two years before finally landing at Herbies in October 2008.
“Both the other dealerships … never felt comfortable,” he said. He felt like the stores didn’t always put the customer’s needs first, which is something he believes is important. He knew about Herbies through Weld Country Garage and what kind of business the Yoders ran. “That’s why when I went down to Herbies and talked to Cindy [Christensen, general manager] and Mary Alice [Muñoz, finance and sales manager], I was just sold right away on the program,” he said. “Herbies is all about helping customers actually meet their transportation needs within their budget and not just forcing them into a vehicle.” He also proudly added that the dealership was recently named the 2011 Dealer of the Year by the Colorado Independent Auto Dealers Association.
Ramirez said that while he did enjoy selling cars at the franchise stores, helping customers at Herbies – many of whom have credit issues – is something he finds much more fulfilling. “They’ve been told no, and then when you actually tell them yes … just to see their faces light up, knowing that you’re going to be able to help them out, is just, for me … a feeling like nothing else.”
Herbies General Manager Cindy Christensen said of Ramirez, “He’s a joy to have here.” She added that Ramirez has managed to build quite a customer following. “He seldom takes lot ups. He has a pretty decent repeat and referral business … He’s just busy, busy, busy all the time.”
Ramirez estimated that almost 80 percent of his business comes from repeat customers and referrals. Part of that, he said, is due to good follow-up; he tries to do something to touch base with his customers each month, whether it’s a postcard, letter, phone call or email. “I just stay on it … I’ve kept in touch with them and they just keep coming back.” He commented that one particular family has resulted in eight or nine repeat and/or referral sales. He finds it especially satisfying that several of his customers have improved their credit to the point that they could buy from any dealership but still choose to return to Herbies and buy from him.
Ramirez also serves as the backup floor manager, covering for Muñoz when she’s off. “I actually like doing that. That’s fun, just to get to switch it up a little bit and see … both sides of the deal,” he said. He acknowledged that it does present a challenge, however, when it comes to keeping up with his own customers and maintaining his sales numbers each month. “If I’m desking and I’m trying to take care of somebody else’s customer, it’s hard to give the full 100 percent attention to [my customers],” he said. “It’s challenging at times … [but] I love a challenge. I’d rather be busy … than sitting around looking for something to do.”
Congratulations to Dave Ramirez, Sales Professional of the Month, and thank you to Cindy Christensen for bringing him to our attention.
Nominate Your Sales Pro Now
Vol. 9, Issue 5