Q. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
A. After working for General Motors’ Cadillac division for eighteen years, I went on to a Subaru, Pontiac, Jeep and Chrysler Dodge dealer. I spent almost 10 years there before opening up a business. One of the benefits of working for a new car dealership is the ongoing training they require. After many years of working for someone I wanted to go into a business for myself and my family. I had the desire to go out on my own and be successful. I grew up in the automotive field, starting with my dad. He worked for many years in a Cadillac dealership. I helped him when he worked on cars at home and quickly developed a passion for cars. Working for new car dealerships gave me an advantage because I have attended many, many training classes and have continued my education in the automotive field every year.
Me and my wife started Best Auto in the fall of 2007. We service all makes of cars and trucks, foreign and domestic. My philosophy is we do not want to ever send a customer to a new car dealer if our shop can service their vehicle. I feel we are a one-stop shop for all of their automotive needs. We are located in Tannersville, PA., in the beautiful Pocono Mountains.
My advice to any entrepreneurs would be to always be willing to learn. Never think you have learned it all. Always be honest with people and give them a fair deal when it comes to business. Try to exceed the customers’ expectations and you’ll have a customer for life.
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
A. Top three skills, I think, for any entrepreneur are: 1) Know your market. What is your product or service you will be selling? What is your competition? Is there another company close by that does the same thing? 2) You definitely have to be good with people and have a good attitude with a spirit that you want to help people. 3) Being honest and showing integrity will always help when dealing with people.
Q. How many hours do you work a day, on average?
A. On average I work a 10-hour day.
Q. To what do you most attribute your success?
A. I attribute our success to being a family-run business that has strong morals and values, and we put the customer first. By educating the consumer they can make a better choice for themselves. The customers can see we have a family atmosphere and I think that helps develop a level of trust which is absolutely needed in any business.
Q. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
A. We use various forms of advertising to market our business, such as digital billboards, TV, radio, newspaper, gift certificates. I think one of the better forms of marketing comes from TV.
Q. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors foryour venture?
A. Our funding came from money saved by doing extra work and saving the profits. We do not have investors.
Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
A. One of the best ways for long-term success is to always look for different ways to make yourself and your business better. Be honest with people and always be marketing yourself and your business. Do not let complacement or mediocrity set in. Always be eager to learn.
Q. Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
A. I see myself and our business in 5 – 10 years as adding more square footage to the existing building, hiring more staff and growing the business. I see myself being debt-free within 10 years.
Q. How important have good employees been to your success?
A. I could not have been successful without my good employees. Together we make up a great team and without a team you cannot be successful. They are the life blood of the business.
Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
A. I usually do not give up on an idea unless it is a bad one or will not move the business forward in a positive way.
Q. What motivates you?
A. What motivates me is when people say you have a great staff or you guys did a great job on my car. Just making people smile and knowing they are happy makes my day.
Q. What are your ideals?
A. My ideals are compassion, integrity, honesty and sincerity. Without those I don’t think you can be successful.
Q. How do you generate new ideas?
A. Ideas usually pop up from internet sites, having an open mind and listening to what is going on. Just having a good attitude lets the ideas come in to you mind.
Q. How do you define success?
A. I define success when I hear positive things about myself, my employees and my business. I think when you put the customer first and give exceptional service, success just follows it is natural flow.
Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
A. I think to build a successful customer base you have to give exceptional service and try to do things that other businesses do not. I think consistency is a must and you have to create that wow factor with each visit from your customer so they will keep coming back. You always want to treat the customer like a friend.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A. I think my favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur is being able to take some time off and I know the business is run properly. The fact that you are making a profit without being there creates a huge freedom that only comes from hard work.
Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
A. One of the most satisfying moments in business was when we donated tires to a woman who has cancer and could not afford to replace them. This really made me feel good, to help someone in need.
Q. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
A. I think the difference between an entrepreneur and someone who works for someone else is that the entrepreneur wants more from life. They are not happy just making the same salary every week. The entrepreneur has to have a lot of discipline and has to make some difficult choices in a short period of time.
Q. What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular typeof culture?
A. We have a culture in our shop derived from being an honest family-run business and wanting to exceed our customers’ expectations. We use only the best equipment and train our employees monthly. I established this by telling and showing our employees that when we do our best, it shows to our customers and they see it.
Q. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
A. In one word, my life as an entrepreneur would be success.
Q. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
A. If I had to start my career over again I would go into business a lot sooner.
Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
A. Being an entrepreneur has helped in my family’s life in a positive way.
Q. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
A. I usually do not have fears about business. I have thoughts, but I know only the good ones I apply in business.
Q. How did you decide on the location for your business?
A. The location of the business came from the real estate broker. We knew the location was good based on daily car count, so when it came up for rent we took advantage of it.
Q. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
A. I do not think there is any pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
Q. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
A. If I could talk to anyone in history it would be Jesus Christ. Why, it would be awesome to speak with someone that new all the answers to mans problems and to see how humble a human being could be. Also to gain valuable insight on how to be the best human being you could possibly be. What great advise that would be.
Q. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
A. One of my greatest inspirations is my family. They backed me up going into business.
Q. What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
A. One of my favorite books is Lincoln on leadership. Lincoln was a true leader and really led by example. He brought out the bestin a person.
Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
A. One of the biggest mistakes I have made is hiring the wrong employees.
Q. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
A. I can prevent mistakes by thinking things through or writing it down and weighing the pros and cons. By taking time and not rushing into a decision. By holding people accountable and not settling for mediocrity.
Q. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
A. My hobbies are going to car shows, spending time with family. Reading, and going to martial arts.
Q. What makes you happy?
A. What makes me happy is being home with family. Spending time with friends and family.
Q. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
A. One of the sacrifices that had to be made was working extra hours to get the business going. Spending time at night to network and not be at home.
Q. If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
A. I think a question I would ask is why do you want to be an entrepreneur and what is your definition of an entrepreneur?