Mitsubishi Motors Dealer Partner Spotlight – Birmingham Mitsubishi on First Impressions
Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) is celebrating dealer partners who go above and beyond for their communities. They provide more than just a great place to buy a car – they help their hometowns thrive in the good times and heal in the challenging times. They rise to the occasion in support of the community, whatever the occasion may be. This month, we are proud to feature Birmingham Mitsubishi Dealer Principal Mike Shakora and General Manager Dale Trautman.
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH MIKE SHAKORA AND DALE TRAUTMAN
Dealer Principal and General Manager, Birmingham Mitsubishi, Birmingham, AL
- Birmingham Mitsubishi opened in January 2021 – a bright spot after a challenging year for small businesses and communities. What was that like?
Dale: The pandemic presented challenges for us, no doubt, but also opportunities. First, we had to build a great team. We wanted to hire local people, who cared about the local community and would care about our customers. We think of our team as partners in the business. Opening a store during a pandemic was a big risk, and we needed people we could trust. Today, we have a team of 30, and we are extremely proud of them.
Next, we had to introduce the brand to the community in the right way. Seventy percent of our customers are new to the Mitsubishi brand, and first impressions are important. We invested in our team, our showroom and our online presence; we invested dollars in local advertising, and we took the time to build relationships with local officials, civic organizations and schools.
- And you really practice that belief. Tell us what Birmingham Mitsubishi is doing to support the community around it.
Dale: We have focused our community efforts on two areas – academics and the arts. There is no better tool for strengthening individuals and communities than education. Early on, we built a partnership with Huffman High School, right in our back yard, to sponsor a “Student of the Month” scholarship. Each month, Huffman teachers nominate one student for the honor. That student receives a $250 check and gets to have lunch with the high school principal and myself.
Every year, we will also sponsor a $3,000 scholarship for one student. To apply, students will write a personal essay about how they've overcome adversity and their plans for the future. It is our hope to grow these scholarship opportunities in the future. In addition to supporting academics, we also support the high school band and ROTC programs as we can. We are very proud to give back in these hyper-local ways.
- Why is giving back to the community so important to you?
Mike: I came to this country from Jerusalem to pursue a degree in computer engineering from the University of Florida. Obviously, my path to the automotive business was not a straight one. I started and then sold my own internet company, and then got into vehicle electronics and custom audio systems. I fell in love with the retail business, and after finding success and making a name for myself, I bought my first store in Mobile, Alabama. My father used to say that, if you work hard, nothing is impossible.
For me, college was not an option – it was a must and my family sacrificed a lot to give me that opportunity. For so many, scholarships are necessary to achieve the dream of education. So, when we award our scholarships, we are not looking for just any kid who can write a nice essay – we are looking for kids who have overcome adversity, who have worked hard, who have made an impression on their teachers, and frankly, kids who need a little help. If the students in our schools have a bright future, our community will have a bright future.
- How has your background in computer science influenced the way you approach the job today?
Mike: I am not afraid of technology. I believe that businesses that can find the right balance of online and in-store experience will win the future of automotive sales. We need to make it easy for our customers to shop online and more importantly, we need to be responsive and transparent. Our job is to arm them with all of the information they need to feel confident about a purchase, and when they show up to our store to close the deal, there should be no surprises. Every car has a story, and every customer has a story. We need to listen, learn and build relationships – online and on the showroom floor.
- Why is Mitsubishi the right brand, at the right time, in the right place?
Mike: Our community in Birmingham is made up of hard working, family oriented, diverse individuals. Value and affordability are Important to them. The quality, dependability and reliability of their vehicles is important to them. Mitsubishi delivers all of that, and a fresh, modern, well-equipped lineup of vehicles.
We've seen tremendous interest in the 2021 Mirage, because it is a great value and offers stellar MPG. It wasn't too long ago that fuel shortages hit close to home, and I think customers remember that. Plus, the all-new, 2022 Outlander – with its styling, technology and size – is really blowing people away, especially those new to the brand. They can get so much for so little. The team is really proud to introduce Mitsubishi to Birmingham, to introduce this lineup, and to have an opportunity to grow with the brand.
About Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.
Through a network of approximately 330 dealer partners across the United States, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., (MMNA) is responsible for the sales, marketing and customer service of Mitsubishi Motors vehicles in the U.S. MMNA was the top-ranked Japanese brand in the J.D. Power 2021 Initial Quality study, ranking third overall and tied with Lexus. In its Environmental Targets 2030, MMNA's parent company Mitsubishi Motors Corporation has set a goal of a 40 percent reduction in the CO2 emissions of its new cars by 2030 through leveraging EVs — with PHEVs as the centerpiece — to help create a sustainable society.
With headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee, and corporate operations in California, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, Texas, Florida and Virginia, MMNA directly and indirectly employs more than 8,000 people across the United States
For more information on Mitsubishi vehicles, please contact the Mitsubishi Motors News Bureau at 615- 257-2698 or visit media.mitsubishicars.com.
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