January 2017, Auto Dealer Today - Cover Story
Sales professional Tracy Heid is flanked by (from left) owners Steve Ganser and pat McNamar and General Sales Manager Bryan Popp in Mad City Mitsubishi's showroom.
Six years ago, Tracy Heid found herself at a personal and professional crossroads. Newly divorced and at the end of a 12-and-a-half-year tenure as chief of police for the town of Marion, Wis., Heid found herself in need of a new job — preferably one that would get her home safe to her two young children at the same time every night.
Heid spent the next several years in bar management. It was a lucrative career move but one that resulted in too many late nights. In February 2016, she interviewed for a job in the funding department at Mad City Mitsubishi in Madison, Wis., and came up short. But she connected with the dealer, Pat McNamar, and refused to pull her foot back out of the door.
“I just kept on pushing him. I’m very persistent,” she says. “So, finally, he offered me the greeter position and said, ‘OK, prove yourself.’”
A Shot at Sales
Mad City’s general sales manager, Bryan Popp, joined the team several months after Heid. He describes the greeter position as “my eyes and ears on the lot” and says Heid performed at an exceptionally high level, checking in as many as 50 customers per day and demonstrating a knack for connecting with people and starting the sales process on a positive note.
“A good greeter can make or break our operation. It’s such a pivotal role — or at least she made it a pivotal role,” Popp says, adding that, by mid-summer, Heid was pushing hard for a promotion. “I told her, ‘I’ll give you a shot at sales, but here’s what I don’t want to have happen: I don’t want you to end up out of a job because we already found your replacement.’ Her exact words to me were, ‘I’m in. Let’s do this.’”
To say Heid hit the ground running would be an understatement. After a day in the BDC and two days shadowing another salesperson, she was on her own. She had two deals on the board in her first three days, and things escalated quickly from there. She hit the 20-unit mark in her first full month. By November, she was at 40 units per month with no signs of slowing.
“I knew that my compensation would be based on my performance and what I could put into it. I liked that about the job,” she says. “That’s the only way to do it. Take off and succeed or take off and fail.”
Located on the Beltline in Madison, Wis., Mad City Sales and Service became Mad City Mitsubishi in 2016. The store will move into a new building on a larger site this year.
Asked to reveal the secret to her success, Heid says it all comes down to engaging each customer and never, ever rushing the process. She allows that the confidence she built up over 20 years in law enforcement would be an asset in any job, but vehicles are not sold by swagger alone.
“I spend a lot of time with my customers. I befriend them, talk to them a lot before we even proceed, before I ask them to fill out the credit application,” she says. “I take that time to build their trust in me. I want them to know me and know what I’m about. They know I’m doing what I can for them.”
If she has a specialty, she says, it’s finding the right vehicles for customers who didn’t know what they were looking for when they walked in. If the prevailing wisdom that says today’s car buyers want to complete the entire process online is true, she adds, her customers are the exception.
“Very rarely do I have someone come in here who did all the research and points to the car and says, ‘I want that one.’”
Heid, Popp and McNamar all agree that her future is wide open. McNamar says Heid represents the realization of his personal motto: “Intense focus, multiplied by time, equals success.”
“She understands people are seeking an expert to help them with their transportation problem and she personifies this with every guest,” McNamar says. “It’s quite simple, but so often salespeople try to complicate it with their own ideas and strategies. We hope Tracy decides to work with us for many, many years, and we will do everything we can to help her succeed and grow!”
Heid says she enjoys the work and will “see where it takes me.” Popp believes that, with her skill set, the sky is the limit.
“I would definitely entertain the idea of bringing her onto the management team if that’s what she wants to do,” Popp says. “I can also see her being satisfied being the best salesperson this organization will ever see.”