Jan 1, 2011

Dealer Spotlight: Puerto Rico's Amaro Group

Dealer Spotlight
Cars, and Toyotas in particular, are in the Amaro family’s blood.

“This is what we love,” says Adriel Amaro, general manager of the Amaro Group in Puerto Rico, and son of its founder, Nicolas Amaro. “If we saw this as work, it would be a very different story, but we enjoy what we do. We have our cars in our mind 24 hours a day. We sell cars and we have a big collection of cars. That’s what really moves us.”

A native of Cuba, Nicolas Amaro got his start in the car business as a mechanic in Miami. In the 1980s, he started buying cars from auctions, fixing them up and selling them in Puerto Rico. During a trip to the island to check on his business, Nicolas saw the opportunity for a car dealership selling used import cars and decided to stay.

“I saw it was a great place to do business; it still is,” Nicolas says. “It’s the number one place in the world for cars per square mile. We have more cars than people in Puerto Rico.”

Nicolas Amaro gradually transitioned from being strictly a used vehicle retailer to selling new cars. His first brand of new cars was Yugo.  In the 1990s, he got the opportunity to start selling Toyotas. Today, the Amaro Group has more than 300 employees at three Toyota stores (including a Scion franchise), four Suzuki stores, and a Mitsubishi store. It has the top-volume dealerships in retail sales for Toyota, Suzuki and Mitsubishi on the island. The group plans to add additional brands in the near future.

When Adriel was in middle school, he started working weekends at the dealership, cleaning cars and helping in the service department. After graduating from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Adriel returned to Puerto Rico to help his father launch Scion in 2004. Today, he serves as general manager of the Amaro Group, overseeing all the stores. (His sisters, who are now in college, will also join the business after they get their degrees.)

As valuable as he considers his college education, Adriel Amaro says his education at the dealerships is just as important.

“This is the school,” he says. “To be able to learn, you have to be right there at the front, talking to customers, listening to them, selling cars, doing anything you can. My father is the coach. I always talk to him and listen to him. He has been in business longer than me.”

The most important lesson Adriel Amaro has learned from watching and listening to his father over the years is about the importance of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

“We focus on every aspect of customer satisfaction and everyone who touches the customer,” Adriel Amaro says. “And we have to take care of the staff, because that is what gets the impact to the customer. Those are the two key parts.”

Nicolas Amaro agrees, noting the important role of repeat and referral business in the company’s success.  “That’s how we survive right now,” he says.  

It was through a referral that the Amaro Group first came in contact with JM&A Group. Amaro Group does a lot of business with Universal Insurance Company, which recommended JM&A Group as an F&I provider. Adriel Amaro says that he was impressed by the service contract coverage, the price and the technology to support sales and claims. They’ve been a JM&A Group dealer customer now for two years.

“We are very happy with them,” Adriel Amaro says of JM&A Group. “They’ve been very helpful to us with their process, their tools and how to sell the products. They listen and they’re very flexible.”  

The Amaro Group has seen its F&I penetration increase from the low teens to an average of 35 percent. And with every subsequent training visit from a JM&A Group specialist, penetration increases.

The Amaro Group has not only improved its profits but also retained its position as a leader in sales and CSI. While Nicolas Amaro’s career has included many important accomplishments, he says he can’t single out any achievement of which he is proudest.

“That’s a question I can’t answer,” he says. “Every day, I feel happy with what I have achieved. It’s a continued growth. I’m happy with what’s happening every day. I want to be committed to the customer daily and make sure the customer feels satisfied and taken care of. We see the business as long-term. We think about tomorrow, not just today.”