By Daniel Bryan, Provinz Contributions Editor, photos courtesy Porsche Centre Oakville (from July 2017 Provinz page 22)
Q: You sell Porsches for a living, a profession that many of us will surely envy. Tell me, how did you get to this point in your career?
A: My career in the automotive industry began 20 years ago, in Burlington, selling vehicles for GM’s new division, Saturn. It was “A Different Kind of Car Company” and a different kind of car, featuring polymer body panels that wouldn’t rust or dent; we demonstrated this to customers by ramming a grocery cart into the side of a model, right in the showroom! I then made the move to BMW and spent 12 great years with them. But my dream was always to be a part of what I believed is the best automotive brand, period—Porsche. So, in January 2013, I joined the Policaro Automotive Family at their Northwest Lexus dealership in Brampton, with my goal being to move to their soon-to-be-opened Porsche facility in Oakville. At Lexus, my professionalism, eagerness, and enthusiasm for the Porsche brand quickly shone through—and a few months later, my dream became a reality when our GM, Francesco Policaro, gave me word that I would be moving with him to Porsche Centre Oakville.
Q: You just mentioned that it had always been your dream to work for Porsche, or at least sell them. Specifically, what was it about the marque that you liked so much?
A: Thinking about Porsche, what immediately comes to mind is the German engineering, the racing heritage, the unbelievable quality and dependability. But most importantly for me, I think, was that I admired the passion that Porsche owners have for their vehicles and the brand. Plus, as a little boy, I had a Porsche poster on my wall!
Q: I can imagine that in your profession, it can be quite a challenge, in terms of product knowledge, when you move to a new brand. What’s normally involved in familiarizing yourself with the product, and did you find your introduction to Porsche any different to past experiences?
A: Reading through brochures and anything you can find on the Internet, and going for a few test drives is typical, but yes, with Porsche, things are a bit different. In July 2013, I had the pleasure of being sent by Porsche Centre Oakville to Germany, for my first Porsche training course, Introduction to Porsche (ITP). It’s a course that Porsche requires all sales executives to take. I’d been a car enthusiast since I was little, so on the entire trip, and especially on our visit to Porsche’s Stuttgart and Leipzig factories, I was like a wide-eyed kid in a candy store! I’ll never forget the people on the assembly line, building the cars—mostly by hand—I could really sense the pride and passion they had for their product and job. Training also included a visit to the Porsche Museum to learn about the history and heritage of the brand, and finally, we drove the product on their test track, at Leipzig. The four-day whirlwind not only gave me a great start on what I needed to know, but also infused me with Porsche pride and passion, a necessity for me as the first point of contact for their customers. I now fully understood why we were flown all the way to Germany!
Q: So, what’s it like, selling Porsches for a living?
A: It is truly an amazing environment. Being part of the Policaro Automotive Group and specifically Porsche Centre Oakville is like being part of a family. That feeling is not only experienced by employees but also by our clients, who visit us regularly. Whether their visit involves sales, service, or parts—or is just to stop by and see what’s new while enjoying an espresso, we’re always in touch.
I love meeting new people and getting them excited about the Porsche brand, and spending time with them getting to know them and their needs. Then we get to use the Porsche Car Configurator together. The vast array of options on offer can truly make their first Porsche a car that is made specifically for them and I feel lucky to be a part of that. Equally important (and fun) is the test drive. Nothing drives like a Porsche—and I love that my job is to show them what makes the Porsche DNA different from everything else. When new Porsche models are released, Porsche sends us to track events to experience the vehicle and compare it to other manufacturers’ offerings. When we come back, we’re pumped and excited to call our clients and share with them all the things the new Porsche has to offer.
Q: Given that the majority of Porsche models are sports cars, are winters at the dealership a slow period? For that matter, is there an especially busy time of year?
A: Spring and summer are always busy because people see Porsches on the road and on the track and start to think about one as their next car. But because about 85% of our clients custom order their Porsche from the factory, and it can take 4–8 months to receive (depending on the model and production schedule), we’re actually busy right through fall and winter, taking orders for cars that will arrive in the spring. Cayenne and Macan sales are healthy all year. We always have customers who are specifically looking to buy a previously owned Porsche, which are in limited supply, so we’re continually checking stock and letting clients know whenever an exciting new car that they may be interested comes in. Porsches tend to have outstanding resale value [Editor’s note: Kelley Blue Book rated Porsche “Best Luxury Brand” in terms of resale value earlier this year] so we also get a lot of year-round repeat business from customers trading in their previous model for something different, or newer. Or, from customers eager to add to their existing Porsche family.
Q: I noticed that you, and many of the other PCO sales executives are also Certified Porsche Brand Ambassadors. Explain that to me—what does it mean, how do you attain it, and how does it set you apart?
A: In order to become a Certified Porsche Brand Ambassador, Porsche has us complete an intensive four-day training course called Porsche Global Certification System (PGCS). Recognized globally at any Porsche retail facility, it certifies that a sales executive has completed additional customer-focused knowledge and training, accepted and approved by Porsche AG. Every three years, we must be recertified. And that’s in addition to the regular product knowledge computer training courses and testing that everyone in the dealership must complete every few months, or whenever there’s new information or new or redesigned Porsche models coming soon. Since starting with Porsche, I have completed 52 modules of training and testing. No other automotive manufacturer trains its staff like Porsche does.
Q: Porsche Centre Oakville will be celebrating its fourth anniversary this September. Thinking back, what have been some of the highlights, both personally and for the dealership as a whole?
A: The opening, for sure. Of course, people were happy that there was a new Porsche dealership in Oakville, but being brand new, there was still a lot to be done when we opened. We started with 24 employees, and we worked 12-hour days, seven days a week, for the first two months—making sure everything was perfect. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it in the grand scheme of things. It quickly became clear we had a great team and all got along well, having “gone through the trenches” together since opening day. The first few months were crazy busy, and I mean crazy! Everyone wanted to come and see the new Porsche dealership—people came in droves, every day, which was exciting. The buzz was incredible! Fast forward to present day, we now have in excess of 70 employees, organized, and knowledgeable. What we’ve created and achieved since our opening is really remarkable.
On a dealership level, some highlights off the top of my head: Porsche Centre Oakville was recently awarded Porsche’s “Premier Dealer” status for the third consecutive year, an achievement never completed by another Porsche dealer in Canada. In March, we hosted 500+ Porsche enthusiasts for “An evening with Magnus Walker” – the legendary Porsche collector and rebuilder, and star of the 2012 Porsche documentary Urban Outlaw. [Editor’s note: find it on YouTube if you haven’t seen it.] Magnus signed autographs for five hours, never wavering—an embodiment of Porsche passion! Back in 2014, we hosted a fun 24-hour-long 24 Hours of Le Mans-themed event and then we won first place in Porsche AG’s global marketing contest for dealership innovation for it! And, we continue to enjoy a successful racing partnership with Alegra Motorsports, sponsoring a championship-winning car and driver in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series, and now also, select races in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. This past January, it was fantastic to see a car with our name on it win its class at the Rolex 24 at Daytona!
Q: You’re a PCA UCR member, so you own a Porsche. Is that your first P-car? Tell me about it, and how, if at all, selling Porsches for a living played a role in helping you make one become your daily driver?
A: Helping people buy a Porsche is what I do, from the first meeting with the customer to designing the build to confirming the order and to them taking delivery. Throughout this process, I see their eyes light up and their smiles go from cheek to cheek. After doing this a few hundred times, you can feel a bit left out! So, having decided that I wanted to become part of the Porsche family and experience the same feeling of delight, in October 2015, I took delivery of my first Porsche—a brand-new 2016 Panamera GTS. I must have changed the build three or four times (okay, maybe 10 or 11 times!) to make it my perfect build. And what a wonderfully engineered work of art it is! Even though I sell Porsches, it was only when I had my very own that I was able to truly appreciate the quality of the build and how excellent they are to drive on a daily basis. After 18 months of ownership, it still gives me goosebumps when I start it up and hear the naturally aspirated V8 growl! I’ve never forgotten the old ads that said “Porsche, there is no substitute”—and I now know exactly what they meant.
Q: So it’s Porsche at home, Porsche at work—is it Porsche in your free time, too?
A: “Free time”, what’s that?! I collect model cars as a hobby, and as you might guess, there’s Porsches among them, with more to come, for sure. I’ve attended a few UCR Socials, but I haven’t yet found the time to fit in a Fun Run—that’s definitely next on my list! At work, we’ve held, attended and sponsored quite a few events both on site and off… the Marquis d’Elegance in Burlington, track days at CTMP, Joseph Brant and Oakville Hospital charity events that the dealership supports, and “Cars & Coffee” on select Saturday mornings in which owners of current and classic Porsches congregate and chat about their vehicles and experiences. I’ve participated in all these events and love doing so. It’s always great to meet and chat with Porsche owners outside of the dealership, in a more casual setting. So, even if I don’t have much free time, it is true what they say: do what you love and you will find it’s not work, but a pleasure.
Q: Any last thoughts you would like to share?
A: If you were the kid with a 911 Turbo poster or if it’s been your lifelong goal to own a Porsche—whether new or previously loved, come and see me or any of the other great staff at Porsche Centre Oakville. We’ll build your dream together!