April 2018, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
Internet Manager Michele Hinkley and Sales Consultant Joel White are friends and teammates at Seymour Ford Lincoln of Jackson, Mich. Photo by Taryn Hatch
At 26 years old and just six years into his automotive sales career, Joel White’s course appears to be set. Six months after walking in “off the street” to ask for a job as a detailer at Seymour Ford Lincoln in Jackson, Mich., White had the opportunity to move into sales. Neither he, his bosses, nor his customers have looked back since.
“I was 19 at the time and the youngest person here, and it’s a big responsibility. But I said, ‘You know what? I’ll take a shot at it,’” White says.
After sitting through a battery of product-knowledge training and exams, he hit the showroom floor, where his friendly, engaging, and courteous nature made an immediate impact. He now averages 15 units per month, new and used, and he makes a friend of nearly every customer he meets, at least according to Internet Manager Michele Hinkley.
“He sits by the door and cheerfully greets everyone who walks in,” says Hinkley, noting that internet leads represent “just a portion” of his business. “He also has his referrals and returns. When they sit at his desk, everyone says, ‘I’ve never had a car salesman like you before.’”
White says his bosses deserve credit for his performance but that his father, a pastor, taught him the art of rapport. “A big part of his ministry is sitting there and listening. It’s fun. And if you take care of your customers, which I try to do, they’ll keep coming back.”
White’s goal for every customer is a “straight-cut deal,” relying on honesty and transparency to drive the process forward. Part of that is setting up the turn to F&I. Hinkley says White’s deals have led the store on the back-end side even in months in which he didn’t sell the most vehicles.
“He just explains the importance of protecting investment,” Hinkley says. “He comes from a large family, so when he explains the advantages of paint and fabric protection for kids, spills, and the salt here in Michigan, it’s real.”
In his time off, White can typically be found in the company of his wife and 1-year-old twin girls, while prioritizing family, church activities, and outdoor fun. Asked about his future plans, including promotion to the management ranks, White demurs.
“I sit next to the general manager, and I see the headaches he deals with,” he says. “If the Lord gave me that opportunity, I would consider it. But I can’t ask for any more than I have. To be honest, it’s beyond a blessing.”