To a young Einar Brasso,
27,43,67, 101. These numbers won’t mean much to you at first. Yet they represent the foundation of an auto journey that will span five decades and take you from an abandoned dusty barn on Macleod Trail to being part of a top Nissan dealership in Canada.
These four numbers will stick with you over the years – so much so you might as well have them tattooed.
This is the number of cars you will sell over the first four months after opening Brasso Datsun in the spring of 1969 – a runaway success in Calgary at that time. While you might question whether you made the right move in paying $2,500 per month in rent for that building on 57th and Macleod, let these numbers foreshadow that the risks in the beginning will be worth it in the end.
After 50 years of leading Brasso Nissan (spoiler alert!), I want to share a couple other lessons I’ve learned along the way:
Don’t … forget that nothing beats a good product and exceptional customer service.
Do … listen to dad – or as Calgarians called him “Good Ole’ Honest Pete.” He was right when he taught you to always be honest in business, no matter the cost. What goes around will come around.
Do … sell those cows to your father in-law to come up with your share of the down payment. It’s the best trade you’ll ever make.
And don’t …. worry. You’ll get those cows back by the end of the year.
Do … check the qualifications of your people, including whether your first service tech knows how to use a screwdriver.
Don’t … resist change. It’s what will take you from Datsun to Nissan. It will also keep drivers interested. You might think the biggest change is whether the fins on the cars run horizontally or vertically. But new technology will speed up change like you’ve never seen before.
Do … adjust the way you do business. Buyers will become savvier than you will ever expect. They will often know what they want before they even come through your doors. It’s up to you to create a customer experience that matches their level of sophistication.
Don’t … be afraid to take bold moves. It will be what allows you to open your first location. It will be what motivates you to grow into a new location in the Auto Mall along Glenmore Trail.
Do … have a receipt book on hand at all times. You never know when you’ll make a sale. You might be sweeping the floor waiting for your first batch of cars to arrive when someone walks in with a $2,245 cheque for a new pickup.
Don’t … think you know it all. Because you won’t – at least not right away. Hire the right people, get out of their way and trust them. They will be as responsible for Brasso Nissan’s success as anything else.
And lastly … do enjoy the moment. Take advantage of every second and enjoy how special it is.