Photo: Toni McQuilken
Ten years ago, if you asked Ricardo Liburd where his career path would take him, the odds are good he wouldn’t have mentioned car sales. At the time, he was working for Shell Oil Co., and his brother — who had joined a dealership and rapidly worked his way into management — called to recruit him.
“I knew I loved cars, so I decided to give it a try and change careers. And here I am today,” Liburd says.
He worked at that dealership for four years before leaving for an IT job. But fate intervened again when a manager from Brandon (Fla.) Ford came to Liburd to get his phone fixed. The two ended up chatting, and Liburd realized just how much he missed the car business. The manager convinced him to return, and Liburd has flourished, moving up the ranks to his current position as Internet sales manager.
“He’s a go-getter. He just doesn’t stop,” says senior sales manager Brooksy Hall. “When he’s done with one sale, he goes right onto the next. He’s like the Energizer Bunny.”
Brandon Ford is the OEM’s top-volume dealer for the Southeast region, averaging more than 600 new and used vehicles per month. Liburd himself averages 25 to 30 units per month, but for the last few months, he’s been breaking records. In August, he sold 41½ cars, breaking a store record that had stood for more than a decade.
Liburd notes that as much as 90% of his sales start on the Internet. The rest come from referrals, repeat business and the occasional up. “I get to talk to people over the phone or Internet, from the comfort of their own home. We work everything from the pricing to the car to the options, so when they get here, the car is ready for them. They just have to sign the paperwork.”
Unlike at some dealerships, Liburd never hands off his leads. “There is no back-and-forth,” he says. “That’s what’s unique about this place. Customers work with the same person all the way through the process. I take them for the test drive, I evaluate the trade, I work the numbers. The only other person they see is the finance manager.”
Liburd attributes his success to hard work and faith, as well as his ability to talk to people and make connections. “I believe in myself and a higher power. I have confidence in myself and in my ability to talk to customers. My beliefs and how I approach life are a big part of it.”
“I think he drives the other salespeople to be better,” Hall says. “They were the leaders before he came to the Internet department. And now he’s passed them, so they’re pushing themselves to compete. He was my top guy on the floor, with great CSI scores, and he was the kind of guy we wanted to put some energy into the Internet department. And it’s worked well.”
Liburd believes his success isn’t achieved in isolation. He credits everyone from the owner down for creating a great place to work. “This is the best place to buy a car,” he says. “We have great pricing, a great selection and a great atmosphere with very friendly, kind people. We want to earn the business. There are no games to be played.”
Hall agrees, noting, “We do everything on our word and a handshake. We do the right thing, and that’s what has made us so successful. Even when sales were down elsewhere, ours were up, because we don’t just sell cars. We build relationships.”