2019 All-Star Manager: Ben Lesueur
At just 23 years old, Ben Lesueur of Oxford Automotive has taken over as manager of the auto shop’s new, rural location when it started off with hard beginnings. In just 11 months, he took monthly sales from little to nothing to $90,000—an annual revenue of $982,000 from that one location in a town of 13,000—all while earning the location a 4.9-star rating and 78 reviews.
“I love being able to look forward and think, ‘Oh my gosh, that is not possible,’ and, in six months, making it a reality,” Lesueur says.
When Lesueur first started, he was an 18-year-old senior in high school. Lesueur hustled in school and was able to graduate early, where he then took a job pushing a broom in his family’s auto mechanic garage.
In Powell, Ohio, Lesueur says it was the norm—even expected—that students go to college after high school. However, he felt that wasn’t his chosen path, saying he wanted to prove that trade jobs are still valuable.
After moving on and working for Goodyear, the owner of Oxford Automotive, James Church, approached Lesueur about an open apprentice position. Leaving Goodyear would mean taking a significant pay cut and driving 45 minutes north from where he currently lived. Even with these pitfalls, Lesueur chose to pursue the job opportunity. And leaving Goodyear meant leaving a culture that treated their customers as merely a number, not actual people, he says.
Lesueur soon went from apprentice to service advisor within eight months. And within three years, he was managing an entire store. As a millennial teenager in an advisor job, working with people who had been in the business for as long as he has been alive, he accepted his new management position as a challenge, constantly looking for ways to be better, he says.
“Nobody else my age was doing that, so, a lot of times, when I questioned that I was out of my lane, there was a lot of negativity that came my way,” Lesueur says. “I love when people tell me I can’t do something. Then I can strive to prove to myself what I’m worth and my value.”
To get to the position he is in today, Lesueur consistently has believed in the same principles of feedback and active listening.
“Whether it be with my employees or with my customers, I listen to feedback, listen to my customers’ wants and needs, and the same thing with my employees,” Lesueur says. “The way that I look at it is, if you can actively listen, it can allow you to effectively apply solutions to get the ball rolling in a much more efficient way.”
At the Powell location, Lesueur eliminated any objections possible for his customers. For example, when it comes to rentals, Oxford usually charges to use those, but Lesueur started giving them away at no cost when he felt a customer was going to be one of their core customers.
The other part of this deals with the warranty.
“I’ve done the research and looked out to what other shops are offering in the area, and I’m always making sure we’re offering a better value in customer service than everyone around us,” Lesueur says. “We can’t always beat price, but we can always beat in customer service.”
And when it comes to leadership, Lesueur has a very hands-off approach, while also being as transparent as possible. For a production technician, Lesueur sits them down, asks how much they feel they can meet, and breaks down the goals. For example, a technician would say he can turn 200 hours per month, meaning he is turning 50 hours per week, 10 hours per day.
“I really just put it back on their plate. Here’s my expectation and here’s where I think you should be, what can you do to get to that point, and then we work as a team to hit the goals,” Lesueur says.
The tactics Lesueur used back when he was just starting his career at 18 years old are the same tactics he still uses today to grow his career and Oxford Automotive.
“It’s been a challenge—I’ll be honest, it has not been easy,” says Lesueur. “I tried to make the opportunity for myself before I had to ask and wait for somebody to hand it to me.”