For over 30 years, Jeffrey Seigel has managed to make his passion his business by selling high quality, exotic luxury vehicles to an elite and loyal clientele. Boasting a large inventory which ranges from Audi and Mercedes, to Aston Martin, Porsche, Rolls Royce and more, Segal Motorcar Company has become a fixture in the automotive industry by providing excellent vehicles and exceptional customer service. We spoke to Jeffrey to learn the secrets to what it takes to succeed in the highly competitive luxury car market.
How did you get into this business? Why luxury cars?
Well I’ve had a love of cars since I was around 5 years-old. Driving with my parents I was always looking at cars on the road. I would look at the angles, curves, window shapes, things like that. I noticed the details from a very young age and it developed into a passion as I got older. As for how I got into the business, it was kind of a coincidence. I was going into junior high, so it was when I was about 12 or so years old, there was a guy in the neighbourhood, David Geneen, who owned an exotic car business and I started working part-time for him, from junior high all the way through high school. I would work for him in between classes and on the weekends, and ultimately he became my mentor. He played a big part in teaching me what to do and what not to do as I took my first steps into the business at around age 24.
What were some of the biggest things you learned from having David as your mentor?
A lot of great stuff, first and foremost the philosophy is very simple. I would say it was his as much as it is mine because I’ve learned to adapt it into every aspect of my life. It was: always treat everyone in your life the way you would want to be treated by them. The second thing he taught me was to be passionate. If you do what you love, it will never feel like work, but if you chase money, you’ll never be satisfied. The love of money will take away from whatever you set out to do, if that’s the thing you’re primarily concerned with.
Why would someone want to buy a luxury vehicle like a Mercedes, or a Rolls Royce versus a more middle of the road car like a Honda or Toyota?
There’s a variety of reasons, but I think it should be noted that the answer has dramatically changed from years ago to now. If you had asked me this question years ago, I would have said before it was all about the show, it was not necessarily about enjoyment and fulfillment. Today I think that people live more for the moment and with that they seek more instant gratification. Our clients work hard, do a good job and they want to reward themselves with something that will make them feel accomplished, something that they can identify with.
So with that being said, how do you sell a Rolls Royce?
The wonderful thing about this question is that the answer is so easy: you don’t. Here’s why; in this day and age with the internet and other technologies at their disposal, people are quite savvy about what they buy. The beautiful thing about a car like that is that it sells itself. If someone steps into our dealership, chances are they already know exactly what they want. The same applies to other cars like a Ferrari or Lamborghini. The recognition these brand names carry pretty much ensures that they sell themselves. People like to do their homework ahead of time. The only thing that we’re responsible for is having the correct product, with the lowest mileage and most sensible prices always available. I would say the most difficult part is actually getting the right product to our store, not selling it. The hardest part isn’t selling the car, it’s buying the car. Acquiring the right car to hand over to the next custodian is my job more than the selling.
What about someone who is already thinking of purchasing one, but is not too sure it’s right for them? What do you say to convince them that it’s the correct decision?
I actually don’t take that approach, I find that our location is very casual in that sense. When there is an individual who is looking to buy for themselves, this is a very low-pressure, laid back environment where they can feel comfortable. To make sure they’re going home with the right product, I’ll just guide them, but I will never pressure them into making any commitment. I thinks that’s a part of what sets us apart from being a traditional car dealership. I help them to get the car they wish.
How do you build client relationships?
I think the main thing for every business where you deal with clients is to always have longevity in mind. You want that person to be with you for a long time. The key to that is being courteous, available, and again always treating the client the way you would want anyone to treat you. Although I don’t consider myself a salesman in the traditional sense, I do advise people. If someone walks in and says they want to take home a Porsche 911 Twin Turbo and I don’t think that’s the car that suits their needs, I’ll recommend a model that will serve them better. I might say, “Alright, for your first Porsche, maybe we should start out with the 911”, and then I’ll explain why and hopefully that will help them come to that decision. Something like that will make the client trust you. Things will usually fall into place if they sense that you are there to guide them and not just sell to them.
What marketing strategies have you adopted to promote your business?
We have several businesses under our umbrella. What I do is sell wholesale to new car dealers, so the strategy here really is to sell quality, low-mileage products with the correct pedigree and providence. This ensures that they can resell with confidence and ultimately buy on the phone without seeing the product rather than having to go through the process of bringing it to them. They trust us enough to know that their products will be top-of-the-line. Now, for an end-user who wants to purchase directly, we have to make sure we know what we’re talking about. The knowledge that we can offer someone who doesn’t know a lot about cars will leave a positive impression and make them a return customer.
Has the difficult economy affected your dealership at all?
In some ways. I would say yes and no. But not in the manner you might think. Yes, because there is an inventory shortage of cars for us to actually buy. There has been a shortage of cars worldwide, so it’s on a very large scale. Not just regional, or national, this is a global issue. With that being said, it’s becoming harder to come across quality products because of the demand. I would say there are about 5 cars for every 10 dealers wanting to purchase them. This makes my job a lot harder because the good quality cars get gobbled up quickly.
What was your first car? What do you drive now?
My first car was a Fiat 124 Coupe which I bought for a hundred dollars, never got on the road, and I ended up selling it for $50. I bought it thinking I was going to fix it up and do all the repairs, but in the greater scheme of things they just ended up being too costly so I had to sell it. Now my daily car that I drive is a Porsche. I’ve always liked Porsche products very much. The vehicle that I drive to and from work is a Porsche Cayenne.
What is the future of Segal Motorcar?
I would say that the future isn’t too different from the present. I think we’ll be on a very similar, if not the same path that we’re on. I’d like to expand in small percentile increase per year, as well as brand our company, which is very important. But overall, I would just like to maintain the level of product and service that we do. Eventually I would love to feature unique collectible products, and even expand internationally where the market is much broader.
What advice would you give young entrepreneurs?
Mostly not to worry about the money, just do what you love and success will follow. It will never feel like work if you are truly dedicated and immersed in it. It will feel like play—work will become your sandbox!
How would you advise someone looking to get started in auto sales?
As far as the car business goes in particular, I would have to say, learn as much as you can. Be a sponge and really absorb all the information you come across. Even some of the advice and things you may consider to be random. There will always be someone who knows more than you in this business. If your passion and commitment is there you can achieve anything!
Segal Motorcar Company is located at 1641 Langstaff Road, Unit #1 in Concord, ON. Drop by to see Jeffrey and his team for your new luxury vehicle.