Shop Talk: Millennials About Millennials

There’s probably no one who knows millennial shoppers better than millennial employees, so the team went out of our way to talk to a couple of the best and brightest in the industry. Priscilla Novo, Internet Director of Sales & Digital Marketing at Brickell Motors in Miami, Florida, has been in the automotive industry for about 4 years; and Ben Burton, General Sales Manager of Kia of Meridian, Mississippi, has been at home in the industry for around 16 years. We wanted to know what they had to say about selling to younger generations, finding their places in the workforce, and how they’re utilizing the latest technology to forge their way to success. Here’s what they had to say.

There’s probably no one who knows millennial shoppers better than millennial employees, so we went out of our way to talk to a couple of the best and brightest who’ve had plenty of experience working as top dealership professionals.  We wanted to know what they had to say about selling to younger generations, finding their places in the workforce, and how they’re utilizing the latest technology to forge their way to success.  Here’s what they had to say.

Priscilla Novo is the Internet Director of Sales & Digital Marketing at Brickell Motors in Miami, Florida.  She has been in the automotive industry for about 4 years.

Ben Burton is the General Sales Manager at Kia of Meridian, Mississippi.  He has been in the automotive industry for about 16 years.

Q:  As a millennial, do you face any stereotypes in the automotive industry?  If so, how have you overcome them?

  • Priscilla:  Yes, I do think those stereotypes exist, and it was hard to face them in the beginning, but I conducted myself in a manner that soon gained the respect of my peers, and I overcame those stereotypes with hard work.
  • Ben:  I don’t really consider myself a millennial. I started working at age 12 for my dad at his trucking company, so I’ve always had a strong work ethic. I started in this industry at 18, so I had to work harder to prove to everyone I wasn’t a young, dumb kid. I’m diligent, detail-oriented, and passionate about what I do, so I let my work speak for itself when it comes to stereotypes about my age.

Q:  Was it hard for you to assimilate yourself in the workplace as a millennial because of stereotypes or preconceived notions?

  • Priscilla:  It was easy for me because of my strong, hard work ethic, but the hard part for me was managing a team of millennials. It was hard to get them to overcome those challenges.
  • Ben:  I don’t think so.  I have encountered the “he’s young; he must not know what he’s doing” attitude. I’m from the old-school car biz where you earn respect and acknowledgement, so I let my work and my numbers speak for me.  When you’re making everyone a lot of money, it’s not hard to assimilate.

Q:  Do you feel being a millennial has helped you or hindered you at all in your career?  If so, how?

  • Priscilla:  Being a millennial has helped me, because it makes it easy to identify with other millennials. I know exactly what they want and how they are, and that makes it easy to provide the best customer experience possible.
  • Ben:  I think it has its pros and cons just like any generation.  Since I was brought up in the business in the old ways, I’m a little new to digital marketing, but I’m young enough to have integrated my life with technology, so I can follow and grasp the changes easily and quickly. As for the attitudes, some people assume because I’m young that I’m lazy, entitled, or not knowledgeable. That can cause friction, but at the same time, their lower initial expectations of me are very easily exceeded.

Q:  How does being a millennial help you deal with millennial customers in the dealership?

  • Priscilla:  It makes it easier to understand what they want and cater to them specifically. Being a millennial helps me know exactly what they are looking for and provide them with a more personal experience.
  • Ben:  I understand their interests and what appeals to them.  I am a geek and love technology and how it makes my life easier, which is very synonymous with millennials overall.

Q:  Do you find it difficult to appeal to millennials and draw them in to your dealership?

  • Priscilla:  No, not at all. Millennials come in totally prepared, having read reviews and done their research online. You just have to know the best way to appeal to them once they’re on the lot.
  • Ben:  Not at all.  The KIA brand itself is a draw to millennials with its style and technological advancements. And we are heavily committed to our community, which I feel is important to the millennial generation.

Q:  Is it easy to tell millennial customers apart from the rest of the crowd? What makes them stand out?

  • Priscilla:  Absolutely! They are well-informed, have done their research at home, and know exactly what it is they want, which can make them a little demanding.
  • Ben:  Yes.  They tend to be more tech-savvy and have done internet research.  They know more details about the car and are more concerned with the features and benefits available.  In the old car business, we called them “clip-boarders.”  They came in with a clipboard full of notes and comparisons. They also tend to be less likely to worry over or even read the fine print.

Q:  Do you think it’s harder to sell to millennials?  If so, why?

  • Priscilla:  It’s definitely easier to sell to millennials, being a millennial myself, but it seems like older generations tend to have some trouble dealing with the everyday mindset of millennials.
  • Ben:  Not necessarily harder.  They pose their own challenges, as opposed to other generations.  They sometimes believe their researched information is more correct, and we’ve found that when things like features and benefits are pitched to them as a package, they tend to find them more appealing.

Q:  Do you think you identify yourself as a typical millennial, or do you think you don’t fit under that generational label?

  • Priscilla:  To me, the personality traits associated with millennials are too general.  I identify as a millennial because I’m very tech-savvy, but I’m not lazy, spoiled, or unorganized, which is how many people see millennials.
  • Ben:  No.  I came into this business in 2000, before the bulk of this generation was born.  I have a very different value system than what is stereotypically considered millennial, but I do have a lot of similar experiences and a very digitally- and technologically-immersed lifestyle.

Q:  Do you think there are different traits that belong to each generation, or does it all depend on how you were raised growing up?

  • Priscilla:  Both. How you are raised in your home environment plays a huge part in how you grow up, but you can’t control anything outside your home environment. Kids today have more available to them than previous generations, causing them to grow up faster than ever before.
  • Ben:  I think it’s dependent on upbringing: nurture not nature.  Technology has done a lot to contribute to the attitude of this generation, but I have family and friends my age, and even younger, who were raised in a similar fashion and also don’t behave as typical millennials.

Q:  From your perspective, do you see millennials as an opportunity for dealerships, or are they doing more harm than good to the auto industry?

  • Priscilla:  I see millennials as an opportunity. It’s all in how you market yourself to the customer. You have to market yourself as a brand and not just market the specific car you are selling at the time.
  • Ben:  I view them as untapped opportunity.  As employees, they are more aware of technology and able to more readily access information they need. As customers, every dealership has plenty of room for growth digitally. Millennials represent an entire demographic that has not yet been tapped. There’s plenty of opportunity there.

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