Thanks for stopping by for another edition of Meetin’ Wheaton Wednesdays. This week will feature some more good people from the sales department staff here at Wheaton Honda. We have already visited with a couple of our new car salesmen in a previous edition, however we have a few of them here that we still need to meet. We are so excited to introduce you to New Car Salesmen Tony Nielsen and Chris Huffman! In the photo above, Tony is on the left and Chris is on the right. As usual, we will ask a few questions so you can get to know who you will be working with the next time you stop in to check out our new Honda vehicles. So let’s get to know Tony and Chris!
When did you start working at Wheaton Honda and what brought you to work here?
Tony: Well, I worked here from 1976 to 1981 with Warren. I came back after I had my career and retired and I’ve been back 3 years. I chose Wheaton Honda because I bought my cars from here the entire time and I’ve been around this dealership from day one. Great people, Warren has been a wonderful person to work with.
Chris: In August of 1999. I had been a longtime service customer at what was then Mill Woods Honda. I needed a transition in my career. I was a letter carrier before I worked here. Since I had always been a service customer, I walked in and felt that this was something I could be relatively good at. I love the product. So I met with Warren when we were across the street and watched this building go up and then moved in here. And the rest is all history.
What do you think is the best thing about working at Wheaton Honda?
Tony: Oh, absolutely the people. The people first and then the product.
Chris: And the donuts, they’ve always had really good donuts. But absolutely, the people are definitely the difference. When you work with the mass melting pot of cultures that we do around here it’s the people that you work with day in and day out that help kind of make all that worthwhile. We see so many different cultures and so many different types of people. Each car deal is so completely different from the rest. And that’s why this place works so well, it’s flexible selling, it’s exactly what it should be.
Tony: I think the people that work here is the big reason for me. We see a lot of people that have been here a lot of years. Warren has been here 39 years. The service managers and parts managers have all been here a long time. It shows some stability in the dealership. We have a lot of sales people that have been here for a lot of years.
You mentioned the product. What is it that you like about the product?
Tony: Oh, the Honda reliability. I never get cranky phone calls from customers having trouble with their cars. They’ve been so reliable. The cost of maintenance is so low and the resale value is so high. I’ve been a Honda owner since the 90s.
Chris: I can totally echo that sentiment and I think Honda’s challenged right now with having to stay on the cutting-edge, as it were. And they’re responding to that very, very well. You see the new vehicles coming out, there’s excitement. Customers are dying to take a look at what we have to offer them and it’s been a lot of fun to be a part of it. The HR-Vs and Pilots are not only helping us sell other things but people are also coming in because they’re excited about them.
So, you guys are a dynamic duo of sorts. What do you like about working together?
Chris: When coming back in it was an odd transition because a lot of these people I’ve hired or at least sat in on their interviews. Tony was a guy that I always knew that I got along well with, we sat at Christmas parties together, and I knew there was an amicable nature there amongst both of us. I also knew we both sold the same way. To me, what that’s about is just integrity and accountability all the way through. You know, Tony mentioned it earlier, we don’t have a lot of clients coming in and complaining about the vehicle. With that being said, sometimes things don’t go as well as we may plan. I know there’s somebody here when I’m not here that I can count on and rely on. I can say “hey Tony, can you just do this one thing for me” and I know he’ll do it, and I like to think he has the same feeling as well.
Tony: Chris and I both have a very, very similar fashion with customers, we’re both pretty low key, we really do look at what the customers needs are and work from there. So it’s a natural fit for the two of us.
Most people, especially those in the new car department, have discussed a lot of shenanigans that go on here in the dealership. What is the funniest or most memorable moment you’ve had while working at Wheaton Honda?
Chris: There are a lot for me. There’s one daily so it’s hard to kind of pinpoint one. When I managed the store, there’s one that keeps coming back to me. I had alarmed the building and I would run to the other side and walk out that door. As I was walking by the finance office, our finance manager Karen was eating her lunch, at 9:30 at night. *laughs* So I screamed at her “Drop it! Drop it! We have to leave! We have to leave!” and we got out just before the alarm would have actually gone off.
Chris: So that’s one.
Tony: The most recent thing I’ve seen is Dan, one of our salespeople, had his car completely covered in saran wrap.
Chris: That was fun.
Tony: They wrapped it completely he couldn’t get into it in any way, shape or form.
Chris: Did it harm the paint at all?
Tony: It did not at all.
Chris: So, that car’s still available for sale I believe?
Tony: We’ve also seen confetti in the air vents, so things like that. They’ve been fun.
Chris: We won’t say who’s responsible for the saran wrapping, but it’s usually Dan, so It was nice to see him get his just desserts.
What kind of things do you like to do outside of work?
Tony: I’m a golfer, I love to golf. I try to get out at least once a week. I’m a bowler in the winter and I enjoy that. My wife and I love to hike, so we do spend a lot of time in the Rockies and hiking. We’re trying all kinds of new things. She has to drag me along sometimes, because she’s a lot more athletic and outgoing than me. So that’s what we like to do.
Chris: For myself, I am a dad of three daughters. Anything my kids are doing is what I love to do. They’re older now and not spending as much time with their old man as I would like them to. I love hockey, golf, football, lacrosse, anything like that. My dog is an excellent Frisbee catcher. I’ve just realized with my aging wisdom that carpe diem is what I should live by every day. Just make the most of every day that there is, and I think that’s what’s part of what makes this cool is that we try to at least do that here.
Tony: And this job gives some flexibility to do that.
Since you are the ones who normally take questions from our Twitter followers, what has been your experience with these customers?
Tony: Oh, very good. One of my customers actually posted a video online a while back showing the flexibility of his vehicle. He loves the vehicle. He had a vehicle previously where someone smashed a window and did some damage, so he needed to get out of it very quickly. We were able to move him into a new Honda Fit very fast, and he was very happy with the terms we came up with.
Chris, since you have been in almost every youtube video we’ve put out, what do you like best about helping with the videos?
Chris: That stems from me being a ham, I’ve always put myself in front of cameras or microphones or just on stage, whatever I can do. The thing that I appreciate so much more about the electronic age that we’re in is that there are so many different ways to compile information. And clients are looking for something different each time and each and every car dealer is so completely different. I do find that a Twitter client can see first hand how this information age is effective and they’re willing to embrace that. They’re willing to say “hey, I’m just looking for something.”
We like to speak to them on their terms. We do that on every avenue we have, whether it be through emails, or chat leads, or whatever the case. At car shows Warren and I have often been told “hey, you guys were unbelievable. No one enjoys themselves here as much as you guys”. That’s again part of what I believe sets us apart from other dealerships. I’ve held different capacities in the store, and I just like that people care, and you can really really exemplify that when you’re speaking through Twitter in just a quick little message. You have to be precise with the message that’s going back and forth, typically it’s information that people are gathering, but that may lead to something a little further down the line, like Tony mentioned earlier.
If you could recommend one vehicle in the Honda lineup, what is your absolute favorite vehicle and why would you recommend it to a customer?
Chris: The Honda Odyssey. I’ve been an Odyssey owner for a long time. Putting my wife into her first minivan was hard, she did not want to make that transition. I still drive an Odyssey though. My kids are grown and at University or otherwise. It’s just something where I find it fits. It’s not just about kids, it’s also about aging or ailing parents. It’s about road trips. It’s about comfort. At 6’4,” I don’t like getting in and out of smaller vehicles, I do it and don’t mind it, but I’d prefer an Odyssey. There’s so much versatility to the vehicle so that’s kind of why I pick it.
Tony: I’ve been an Odyssey owner since 2003 and I’ll agree with everything he’s said. But, if I was picking a vehicle from the Honda line right now it would be the Honda HR-V. It’s big enough and practical enough that you can do the Costco runs in it, there’s room in the back, it’s comfortable, it’s the right size for the city. Plus, the fuel mileage is incredible. So that’s my vehicle.
Why should customers want to buy a vehicle from you?
Tony: I think they’ll find that their buying experience with us is very low key, very friendly, very easy.
Chris: And you know, again I would echo that comment, but we’re not afraid of any deal. If you’re a tough guy and you want to show off how good you are at buying a car, come on down, we’re flexible. But we’re also chameleons, we’ll change for what you want us to be. Again, with different capacities in the store I’ve done that on every level of the store, and I appreciate that, now just doing the sales part of it, how important it is to be able to change like that.
Tony: And to keep it as stress free as possible.
Chris: Or as stressed out as possible. *laughs* Whatever you’d like, folks. We’ll do it for you.
That’s Tony and Chris! Two great new car salesmen who have been with Wheaton Honda for a long time, love their jobs and have a passion for Honda vehicles. The next time you are considering a new vehicle, stop in and say hi to Tony and Chris. They’ll be happy to see you.
We hope you have enjoyed getting ot know Tony and Chris. Stop back again next week for another edition of Meetin’ Wheaton Wednesdays.