National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate diversity and reflect on the culture and contributions of the Hispanic community. Within retail automotive, Hispanic Americans make up 18% of U.S. new vehicle purchases, according to S&P Global, underscoring the need for better representation within the car business.
On this episode of Inside Automotive, host Shyann Malone is joined by Fernando Varela, CEO and president of Varela Group and past chairman of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD). Not only is Varela an experienced dealer in one of the busiest car markets in the U.S., but he also has rare insights into the corporate manufacturing sector and the needs of other Hispanic retailers. During his time at NAMAD, he worked closely with OEM executives to develop solutions that support minority store owners. Now, he sits down to discuss strategies for improving diversity within the retail automotive workforce.
1. Diversity is an ongoing mission for organizations like NAMAD. As the population evolves in the U.S., more minorities have established generations of dealers, but representation is still lacking.
2. Minority customers desire more diversity in the brands they support. They are more likely to shop with a business if it is run by someone who shares their culture.
3. Some dealers lose business by failing to address the needs of minority customers or even relying on stereotypes in the sales process.
4. Improving pay and benefits for workers can help dealers improve their team’s diversity, which, in turn, helps the business attract more minority customers.
5. Dealers should conduct more outreach in their communities to attract employees. Varela suggests visiting college campuses to speak with students.
"Every business should reflect their customer base. The automobile industry is probably the last one to get to that point. The point of entry into the automobile industry, especially the dealership side of it, is a difficult one and an expensive one." — Fernando Varela