When an up is accompanied by a friend, family member or self-styled car expert, some sales pros double down on the charm and hope for the best. Others, like Auburn (Wash.) Volkswagen’s Matt Reynolds, see an opportunity to double down on sales.
“Essentially, you’re talking to one person about their needs and helping them find something,” Reynolds says. “Then, either the other person mentions they’re looking for a car and I say, ‘What if we could find that today?’ Or there’s a situation where you can spread out the negative equity over two cars. But typically it’s the excitement factor. ‘I want a Volkswagen, too!’”
Reynolds has closed more than 20 such deals since joining the Auburn team in 2011, including nine in one three-month stretch. But two-car deals represent only a fraction of his 24-units-per-month average, which has kept him atop the Seattle-area dealership’s leaderboard for nearly every month in the past four years. The only two months he fell off were November and December of 2014, when he left sales to learn the F&I side of the business. He wanted to have that skill set, says Matt Welch, Auburn’s owner, general manager and chief relationship officer, so he could take deals from start to finish and help out in the finance office when needed.
“Then he went back on the floor and back to No. 1,” Welch says. “When he was in F&I, all his customers were calling him, saying, ‘Why would you do that? We need you!’”
Growing up in Lewiston, Idaho, Reynolds was always partial to Volkswagens. It was the family brand. Most of his six brothers and sisters owned one at some point, and Reynolds drove a ’67 Microbus in high school. But after graduating from the University of Idaho, moving to Washington and completing a brief stint in the mortgage industry, his first job in the auto retail industry was an entry-level sales position at a Honda dealership.
“I was there for about three and a half weeks and they told me I had no future in this business,” Reynolds recalls. “I disagreed.”
He moved onto Seattle’s University Volkswagen, where he trained with Sales Manager Larry Downer and, after a slow start, averaged just under 20 cars per month for a year and a half before temporarily relocating to Los Angeles. When Welch heard Reynolds had returned to the Great Northwest, he moved quickly to hire him.
“He’s the best I’ve seen in 23 years in this business,” Welch says. “He has a total belief that everyone can buy a car. I used to think that’s what separated him. Now he has the belief that everyone can buy two cars. When I was in sales, you never wanted to bring up a second car. You could lose both.”
Welch says he and Dan Grisham, Auburn’s sales manager and new-car manager, give Reynolds a wide berth, allowing him work his personal database, set his own appointments and take ample time off, including three-day weekends, to “keep himself fresh,” in Welch’s words.
That flexibility and productivity, coupled with a correspondingly high income, has kept Reynolds from accepting Welch and Grisham’s offers of a promotion to management. Welch says he doesn’t hold that decision against him. He believes Reynolds’ heartfelt desire to properly serve every customer will continue to reflect the company’s values, whatever his title.
“I have never seen a guy who performs at that that level and has the best interest of the dealership at heart,” Welch says. “I would trust him to babysit my family.”
Though appreciative of his bosses’ praise, Reynolds is quick to credit his success to the “great atmosphere” at Auburn Volkswagen.
“As a dealership, we try to be transparent and definitely authentic,” he says. “And I feel lucky to be able to sell cars — and to be able to sell Volkswagens.”
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