Mitsubishi marks dealership's 25 years
Rapid success part of Biggers' quarter century
Little did Emal Noor realize that a trip to a dealership to get his car serviced would result in a career-changing event.
Although he had always been interested in cars, Noor had never considered working in the industry until one day in 1996 when he drove to Biggers Mitsubishi in Elgin. There he happened to strike up a conversation with someone who indicated Noor should apply for a job at Biggers. That someone turned out to be the owner, Joe Mitchell.
The rest, as they say, is history. Noor applied for a job as a salesman and 19 years later he is still with the dealership, having spent the last 10 years as Biggers Mitsubishi's general sales
"I immediately felt that there was a different atmosphere here," Noor said. "It was very relaxed, no pressure. They let me test drive an Eclipse even though I had no intention of buying one at the time."
A student at UIC pursuing a degree in finance, Noor was still green to the world of automobile sales and service. But Mitchell indicated Noor's lack of an auto industry background wasn't a problem but rather welcomed and good for training purposes. Apparently, Noor learned quickly because within a year he became the No. 1 salesperson for Mitsubishi Motors in the U.S.
By 1999 he was doing even better, winning Mitsubishi's National Walkaround Competition for the best 30-minute sales presentation, for which he received a new Mitsubishi Galant GTZ as a prize. After winning the award, Noor was promoted to sales manager for Biggers Mitsubishi.
"It was quite an adjustment because not only did I have to worry about my own sales, I had to worry about everyone else's, but it was a challenge and I loved it," Noor said.
In 2005, Noor was once again promoted. This time to general sales manager, effectively running the Elgin store for Biggers Mitsubishi.
"I never anticipated being here for so long," he said. "What kept me here is the ever-changing landscape of new products, new technology and the relationships built with our longtime customers."
Noor has seen the automobile industry change completely since he began as a salesman. In 1996, the dealership had no Internet. The following year, there was only a single computer in a back room. Now, like every other dealership, Biggers has an entire department devoted to computers and the Internet, handling information on its website.
Also significant is the way Biggers weathered the economic downturn several years ago.
"We really owe a lot of debt and gratitude to our devoted staff as we have had very little turnover here over the years," Noor said. "But our biggest debt and gratitude goes to our loyal customers. The one thing that we are consistently recognized for by Mitsubishi is our high customer retention percentage. That really is a measure not only for loyalty as a brand, but for the dealership itself. I feel that with our customers we have the best cheerleaders in the world."
Those repeat customers have allowed Biggers Mitsubishi to remain in business for 25 years as a volume leader for Mitsubishi in the U.S. market. The automaker honored owner Joe Mitchell and the dealership at a dinner in January to mark the store's anniversary.
Noor credits a lot of his success to Mitchell, saying he learned a lot about business simply by working at the dealership and watching how Mitchell works through various issues on a daily basis.
"I gained an appreciation for what he does. Joe participated and chaired several dealer advisory boards for Mitsubishi and there were a lot of times when he could have voted for a decision that would have benefitted a big volume dealership like ours, but he voted for what was good for the dealer body and brand as a whole. "It's more about the way he handles daily operations with attention to detail, his leadership, style of management and promoting teamwork. It's always been a fair environment here. There never has been a rule here that didn't apply to everyone, Joe included."
One of the concepts Noor has liked from the beginning about Biggers Mitsubishi is the way the dealership sells cars. He likens his sales staff to tour guides who are there to give customers information and show them around a vehicle.
"Because we award our salespeople on a volume basis, rather than straight commission, that really puts the focus on the customers," Noor said. "They listen to customer needs and wants so that they're matching customers with the right car. We have a no-pressure environment here and that makes a big difference. We would rather sell a Mirage for $12,000 than a Lancer Evolution for $40,000 if a Mirage is what a customer really wants."
Noor and his staff are also excited about the advancements Mitsubishi has begun to incorporate in its vehicles, particularly the redesigned 2016 Outlander utility vehicle that will appear on showroom floors this June.
"It has a fresh, new look with a refined front fascia and a new rear end," he said. "It features a front collision mitigation system, lane departure warning notification and adaptive cruise control, all of which are part of the Outlander's touring packaging resulting in Mitsubishi's Outlander and Outlander Sport being dubbed as 'America's safest CUV line up.' "
The Outlander Sport is by far the sales volume leader at Biggers and nationwide, representing almost 70 percent of sales in any given month. The 2015 Outlander Sport has been fitted with a next generation Continually Variable Transmission (CVT) that has dramatically increased the acceleration, performance and ride quality of the vehicle. It also has next-generation power steering and better noise and vibration control through thicker glass and additional insulation.
"What really has us excited is the 2.4-liter engine that really gives the Sport additional get up and go and it only increases the cost of the vehicle by $500," Noor said.
Mitsubishi has always been at the global forefront of vehicle technology. Many Americans are unaware that it is the oldest Japanese car manufacturer in the world and birthed many industry firsts in all-wheel drive and hybrid engineering.
"They are always testing the boundaries and pushing the envelope on technology," Noor said.
As for the future of the industry, Noor believes that in addition to fuel efficiency, personal mobile technology, also known as vehicle "telematics," will continue to be a catalyst for change as vehicles have now become mobile tech centers, with systems such as FUSE that integrate Bluetooth, portable music and more into a steering wheel-based controller. Technology is also changing the way individuals purchase cars and has considerably reduced the time it takes to purchase one after walking into a dealership.
"In 1996, it took about four to five hours from start to finish," Noor said. "Now it takes less than an hour. Sometimes it actually takes longer for the sales consultant to explain the car's features when the customer is taking ownership than it takes to complete the transaction."
Biggers Mitsubishi recently launched a new website that offers more features, allowing anyone in the country to look at specific vehicles, make initial inquiries, ask about pricing and set up financing, so that virtually all preliminary work can be done before the customer even enters the showroom. In addition, every vehicle Biggers receives is thoroughly photographed inside and out so customers can see actual pictures of the vehicle they want versus a generic stock photo.
With such practices, customers are assured the car they want will be on the lot when they get there. This, coupled with doubling the inventory to almost 200 new cars, has translated to a 36-percent increase in sales in 2014 over the previous year. Noor expects the increase to be even larger in 2015 because it is one of the only Mitsubishi dealerships in the nation to provide a free lifetime powertrain warranty on all new and near new vehicles.
Noor, who turned 40 in February, is also a newlywed. He and his wife, Carlean, married in August of last year and live in Algonquin with their two dogs. In his spare time, Noor likes to golf, bike, and dine in downtown Chicago, where he still feels like a tourist sometimes.
Upon reflection, Noor realizes he has spent nearly half of his life working at Biggers Mitsubishi, a relationship that isn't going to change anytime soon.
"I love to make new acquaintances and will continue the great relationships we have with employees and our customers," Noor said. "I like coming to work thinking I know what to expect -- and then being totally surprised."
Emal NoorGeneral sales manager
1325 E. Chicago St. Elgin, IL 60120
www.biggersmitsubishi.com (847) 742-5800