This is the third part of an interview with Bernie Moreno, the owner of Collection Auto Group. For more, please see:

Collection Auto Group

Managing growth while maintaining culture

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Make a decision. Too many times in business we are faced with hundreds of choices and options. Given the fast pace at which business moves today, you have to trust your judgment and make a decision. Second piece of advice that goes along with this: be right at least 51 percent of the time!

When you think about putting your customers first, describe your philosophy for what that means and how you impart that to your team members?

Customer’s first is a philosophy EVERY business CLAIMS to have as part of their culture. There is no organization that would say they don't value their clients. However, saying it and LIVING it are two entirely different issues. We live that philosophy by creating a culture in which our team members put the customer at the center of everything we do. We know our clients can "fire us" at any time and we never take for granted that we must execute every day. Of course, that culture hinges on having great people, which we are very fortunate to have an abundance of.

How do you empower your staff to go above and beyond for customers?

They are defaulted to say "yes." If a team member is going to disappointment a client, that’s my job. I am the only one allowed to say "no."

What is your philosophy for continuous growth — and continuous improvement?

The business world is changing at a speed that is unprecedented in history. We look at ways of reinventing ourselves, not just changing and evolving.

When you think about your business, what keeps you up at night, and what do you do to resolve it?

Nothing keeps me up at night. Business is my career and I never personalize it by letting it stress my personal life. That would not be fair to my family.

Collection Auto Group

28450 Lorain Road

North Olmsted, OH 44070

Phone: 440,716.2700

E-mail: info@collectionautogroup.com

Web: www.collectionautogroup.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Collection-Auto-Group

Published in Akron/Canton
Thursday, 09 February 2012 09:51

Managing growth while maintaining culture

Last year, we introduced you to Collection Auto Group and owner Bernie Moreno.

The company is still making tremendous strides in the automotive industry, so we sat down with Moreno again to see how Collection Auto Group continues to drive success.

What's your greatest business challenge?

Managing our growth while maintaining our culture. We have grown from 25 people to almost 300 in just under seven years. We have a very unique culture that puts the customer at the core of everything we do. We don’t consider ourselves a “dealership,” but rather, we consider ourselves a customer service business. As such, recruiting, hiring, motivating and retaining the absolute top performers is critical. We also spend a lot of attention on making certain everyone understands our mission and our core values.

What makes you an innovative leader?

I don’t know if I am an “innovative leader,” but I do know we always look for creative solutions to challenges others have found difficult or impossible. We strive to keep our organization on the leading edge by being on the forefront of technology; whether by using social media, iPads for our sales people, or state of the art customer relationship management systems.

What's the greatest lesson you've learned in business?

Not everyone has the skills needed to be singularly devoted to following through on the mastery of the details required to delivery excellent customer service. Knowing this, we continually reinforce the need to put in place organizational processes to help manage these details.

What has been Collection Auto Group's impact on the economy?

We employ almost 300 people and generate over $250,000,000 in gross sales revenue. We are one of the largest collectors of sales tax in Cuyahoga County. We donate about $500,000 to local charities. We also provide human capital in the community to help improve this region.

How do you provide value and go "above and beyond"?

We take the purchase or servicing of a car from a transaction to an experience. Anyone call “sell” a luxury vehicle; we want to provide our customers one of the best, if not the best, service experiences they have ever had.

Collection Auto Group

28450 Lorain Road

North Olmsted, OH 44070

Phone: 440,716.2700

E-mail: info@collectionautogroup.com

Web: www.collectionautogroup.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Collection-Auto-Group

Published in Akron/Canton
Friday, 15 July 2011 10:40

Collection Auto Group

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

Phone: 440,716.2700

E-mail: info@collectionautogroup.com

Web: www.collectionautogroup.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Collection-Auto-Group

Published in Akron/Canton