While their locations are in North Olmsted, Cleveland and Beachwood, Collection Auto Group and owner Bernie Moreno truly service the world.
The Collection Auto Group is a privately owned business composed of multiple automotive dealerships and an on-site performance center. Moreno started building his empire in 2005 with the purchase of the Mercedes-Benz dealership in North Olmsted. Later he added Porsche, North Olmsted Performance, Lotus, Saab, Fisker, Sprinter, Acura and Infiniti over the next five years.
Moreno and staff have made many achievements in the automotive industry since opening in 2005, including: Mercedes-Benz "Best of the Best" Award 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; #1 Mercedes-Benz Dealership in Ohio; #1 Mercedes-Benz Dealership in the Central USA; #1 McLaren SLR dealer in the world; #1 Porsche dealer in Ohio; #1 Porsche dealer in the Central USA; First German "Autohaus" designed Mercedes-Benz dealership in North America; #1 Saab dealership in Ohio; and #1 Lotus dealer in Ohio.
Smart Business spoke with Moreno to discuss how he's been able to build success and drive growth.
What was one of the biggest obstacles you were able to overcome?
During the peak of the economic crisis in 2008 and 2009, we made the strategic decision to add staff and spend more in advertising to gain market share and further improve our customer service. We knew everyone would be doing the opposite and that our approach would put us in a great position to build momentum.
Why did you decide to add staff and spend more?
We define our business as a service delivery business and knew that every other dealership would be cutting critical customer-facing employees. We saw this as an opportunity to staff up and increase our service level with the aim of increasing market share.
What makes you an innovative leader?
We foster a spirit of fun throughout the dealership that customers recognize and appreciate when they come here. We also look to the newest technologies and adapt our processes accordingly to suit our customers' needs.
Why is a spirit of fun so important? What makes a good company culture?
I love cars. I can't imagine why someone would not find buying a new car fun. It never made sense to me. What is better than getting a new car? As a result, we try to instill that culture in our sales team. A good culture is one that everyone understands and follows ... and achieves the desired result!
What new technologies have you utilized and how have they made you more efficient?
We use iPads and touch screen TVs throughout the dealership and have invested heavily in IT to improve our customer experience.
You're a big proponent of supporting local businesses. Why is that so important?
It's the circle of life. I live in this community. My kids live in this community and will always know Cleveland as their hometown. To really be effective as a business, you have to give back to your town more than you took. That is our goal.
We have increased employment tenfold in six years. We spent almost $15,000,000 in construction, all of it with vendors or suppliers from Northeast Ohio. We spend over $3 million in local media.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned?
Set high expectations for yourself first and motivate your team to do the same for themselves.
Collection Auto Group
28450 Lorain Road
North Olmsted, OH 44070