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Jacob Lavian first discovered his passion for automobiles when emigrated to the U.S. from Israel in the early 1980s.
“I was fascinated by the variety of cars and the fact that almost anyone could own one,” he says. “I like Mercedes, BMW, and a lot of other high-end brands, but being in the business gives me the opportunity to drive anything I want. I truly enjoy that aspect of what I do.”
After buying his first car, a Dodge Diplomat, at a police auction, Jacob realized he had a passion for finding cars that simply had value.
“I believed I could turn that passion into a business,” he says. “And I’ve been fortunate enough to have done just that.”
Since founding Performance Motorcars in 1986, Jacob has personally chosen every one of the thousands of vehicles sold through the dealership.
“Performance Motorcars is a different kind of dealership. Our goal is to create a ‘boutique experience,’ in which every customer feels they’ve found a car matched specifically to their needs,” he explains. “It starts with sourcing newer, low-mileage, high-quality cars and then working one-on-one with customers to get just the right fit. Certainly, you can find cheaper cars, but you won’t match our value in the long run.”
Caleb Rose came to Performance Motorcars with 20 years’ experience at more traditional new car dealerships. During that time, he spent time on the showroom floor and in the finance office, making him a perfect fit for Performance Motorcars.
“We’re all about finding the right car for the right person,” he says. “My experience has taught me how to get the information I need to put my customers in vehicles appropriate for them. I can subtly ask some of the probing, qualifying questions that can help me gauge what’s both a good automotive and financial fit.”
After two decades in a new car sales environment, Rose says he especially enjoys the vibe at Performance Motorcars.
“You hear this all the time, but we really do focus on relationships here,” he says. “At the dealerships I’ve worked at in the past, we were all over customers as soon as they came on the lot, asking questions and pushing for social security numbers. It’s truly low-pressure here. Because we have such a great variety of brands and cars, we work a little harder to figure out what people are looking for, so the interaction tends to be more social and personal.”
Brand Manager/Business Developer Ricardo Arraya has a wide range of responsibilities, but it’s all part of a larger mission.
“I’m working to bring Performance Motorcars into the new era of car dealerships and car buying,” he asserts. “We want Performance Motorcars to be the absolute best car buying experience for every customer.”
In that respect, creating customer perspective is key to Ricardo’s job.
“Performance Motorcars is not a dealership; it’s a brand,” he explains. “Over the years, Jacob has built this niche for low mileage, nearly new vehicles and we sell them in a boutique environment, gearing the cars to our customers’ needs. Part of what I do is to communicate that brand and story, and to grow the brand as the market changes.”
On the marketing side, Ricardo works to meet customer needs in a variety of ways. From the website’s comprehensive gallery of vehicles, 24/7 service on the chat room, and its availability in 268 different languages, to the stream of customer success stories posted on Instagram and Facebook, he works to ensure that Performance Motorcars is where the customers are.
“Essentially, my job is to make information about our cars and access to our support consistently available to customers and prospects,” he says.
Beyond branding, Ricardo works to support customers at the point-of-sale.
“I also handle all of the Finance & Insurance for Performance Motorcars,” he explains, “which includes packaging loans, extended warranties, auto service contracts, key replacement, wheel and tire replacement, and more. At the end of the day, I look at everything I do as supporting a truly unique buying experience.”
No one understands the service department at Performance Motorcars as well as Johnny Venticinque does. The man who everyone knows as “Johnny 25” built it from the ground up.
He started as a salesman at Performance Motorcars about a decade ago. Shortly thereafter, the company lost its service manager.
“Jacob asked me to step in here,” Johnny says. “We didn’t really have any organization, and everything was still written up by hand. I took over, put everything on the computer, and put an online parts ordering and scheduling system in place.”
Like everyone else at Performance Motorcars, Johnny 25 wears a lot of hats. “I handle all our auto servicing here, but I also do a lot of customer service,” he says. “The majority of our customers come back here for oil changes and repairs, so I get to know them fairly well. You’ll probably hear it from everyone here, but we do feel like our customers are friends and family, and we make an effort to treat them that way.”
In that respect, he says, Performance Motorcars owner Jacob Lavian has instilled in everyone a particular way to communicate with customers.
“In any business, it makes sense to be polite and treat people fairly,” notes Johnny. “We do that here, but Jacob has us take it to another level. He’s told us that, no matter what the issue or problem may be, always tell the truth. Our goal here is to build trust. Once you have that, the rest is easy.”
That approach works for Johnny and the entire team.
“I know customers that have been with Jacob and Performance Motorcars since he started the business over 30 years ago,” he says. “That trust is what brings them back.”
“I’m all about organization for Performance Motorcars,” says Office Manager Nikki Mariano. “I do all the DMV, the inventory, office manager, bookkeeping, answer the phones... you name it.”
For many customers, Nikki is the initial point of contact at Performance Motorcars.
“I’m often out on the lot showing customers cars, asking them if they want to test drive a car that they’re interested in, and if they’re they looking to finance,” she says. “I try to set up our customers for our salespeople.”
In addition to prepping salespeople about their prospective customers, Nikki also guides buyers through the entire process.
“Part of my job is to fully educate our customer,” she explains. “I walk them through the contracts, how their funding and the DMV works, and all the paperwork they need to ensure that their car is registered correctly.”
To Nikki, having customers completely understand the transaction and process is key to the relationship Performance Motorcars works to create with them.
“Most people come to any used car dealership with a lot of skepticism, and I get that,” she says.“By being as transparent with customers about every aspect of what we do, we build trust. We want our customers to come back and, when they do, they always know what to expect. That’s how I want to treat people.”