“I learned not to chase the money; chase the opportunity,” Rudy T. says in a video interview I watched prior to my interview with him on April 22. It’s a quote that perfectly sums up his life until now, as he’s been chasing opportunities since arriving in the United States 23 years ago.
Rudy T. is the managing partner and general manager at Brooklyn Mitsubishi. To his employees, the tri-state New York area, and his one million social media followers — a milestone he crossed this past November — he is known as simply “El Patronn,” or “The Boss.” In fact, you can count me as one of his social media followers.
See, El Patronn’s videos began popping up on LinkedIn and in several social media groups I belong to for car people. I first thought he was just another imitator — a business-suited, Rolex-wearing showroom salesperson, trainer or consultant speaking into his phone about how he’s willing to do what other won’t.
There was just something different about Rudy that sparked my curiosity, however. Despite all the flash — he had his own logo, rap song, and produced his first conference last year — there was a humbleness about him. It’s as if he’s keenly aware of how fragile everything is.
My curiosity peaked by the time I arrived at DealerSocket this past November and discovered he was a customer. A case study was a must (Click on the following hyperlinks for a short and more in-depth version of his story . However, I wanted to dedicate my blog this month to his story, because, like most people who have followed his exploits, I wanted to know who El Patronn is?
I found Rudy T. to be accommodating, just a little guarded, and completely unafraid.
I learned he entered the car business around 2003, that his first embarrassing car guy moment was allowing a customer to drive off with an upside down license plate, and that he cut his teeth in finance as a special finance manager with an over 90% acceptance rate on service contracts.
Rudy’s first job in the business was at a Toyota store in the Bronx, where his ability to speak Spanish propelled him to the top of the sales leaderboard behind a 27-car-a-month average and into a sales manager’s role in just two years. Rudy even got the dealer to agree in writing that he could return to the sales floor if things didn’t work out.
It was in that role that Rudy discovered his love for marketing and his desire to one day own his own store.
Between 2008 and his taking over of Brooklyn Mitsubishi in August 2017, Rudy T. held only high-level positions — owner, managing partner, general manager or general sales manager — at four different dealerships. Rudy makes clear, however, that he faced his fair share of letdowns and unkept promises.
“I was always the guy who did the work and never got the credit,” he says while revealing the inspiration behind the El Patronn social media phenomenon.
I also learned Rudy got his El Patronn nickname in 2012 while working for a New Jersey-based Ford-Lincoln store. His Spanish-speaking salesmen started referring to him as El Patrón anytime a vendor stopped by for a visit.
Rudy, who doesn’t drink, added an extra “n” to the end of his nickname after people began assuming it was somehow related to the tequila brand of the same name.
I learned that the hardships and tragedies Rudy faced growing up forced him to develop an unbreakable belief in himself, one many people mistake as cockiness. “El Patronn comes from humble beginnings,” he says, quickly adding, “I came from nothing.”
Rudy T. never met his father, and his mother left him behind in El Salvador when he was six years old. He immigrated to the United States nine years later, arriving in New York the day before the Blizzard of 1996. He was 15 and starting all over again, leaving behind family and friends. He didn’t speak the language and didn’t understand the culture.
“I didn’t like it here at first,” he said. “But this is the land of opportunity. This is the only country that has the resources where anybody can be successful. People who grew up here don’t realize how blessed they are.”
I also learned that El Patronn isn’t just a nickname. It’s who he is, right down to his flashy style. “I think I always had it. Now I can afford it and do it bigger,” he says.
El Patronn is demanding of his employees, but he’s also quick to recognize a salesperson for his efforts and successes. He also isn’t afraid to cycle through employees if they don’t stack up. Big on culture and process, he holds his people accountable to the way he wants business conducted. He wants an active, winning culture in his showrooms. More than anything, he wants to be surrounded by the best.
“I can train anybody,” he says. “I just want someone who has the work ethic, someone who is willing to put in the hours.”
El Patronn also knows he has haters. He’s learned to ignore it and to keep things positive. He’s also quick to admit it took a solid six months before his El Patronn videos started getting viewers, as if that’s a long time to wait. And the more content he posts, the more opportunities seem to come his way.
“It’s had the biggest payoff, man,” he says. “Opportunities are coming at me left and right, you know?”
I also learned that chasing the opportunity really describes his approach to every car deal. Chasing the money, he says, adds unnecessary stress to a customer interaction. Chasing the opportunity to serve and satisfy a customer, he tells his salespeople, puts the attention where it needs to be: on the customer.
I think the real reason I’m an El Patronn fan is because he’s another example of why this industry is so great. See, Rudy T. would have been El Patronn no matter what he did. The car business, like it has for so many, just ensured his energies would be put to good use.
Rudy T., aka El Patronn, took over his underperforming Brooklyn Mitsubishi in August 2017. In one year, he increased sales and profit by 65% and 52%, respectively. One of the drivers was DealerSocket’s CRM software and data-mining solution, which allowed Rudy to take advantage of the 20-year-old dealership’s untouched customer data. Click on the following hyperlinks for a short and more in-depth version of his story.
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