Mercedes Benz of Fort Mitchell

Team Camp Case Profile

Oct 1 2013


What is the best way to prepare and inspire a team to successfully launch a state-of-the art Mercedes Benz retail store?

Answer: Create a unique professional development experience that starts with taking the group to a northern Kentucky college campus, putting 48 individuals in great looking basketball uniforms and teaching them how to put on their socks and tie their shoes.

When Collection Auto Group President and owner, Bernie Moreno, decided to invest over 25 million dollars in the building and start up of a one of a kind  Mercedes Benz retail store in Fort Mitchell Ky.(across the river from downtown Cincinnati),he knew he could build a beautiful  facility. He also knew he could fill the showroom and car lots with many of the world’s best and most sought after vehicles. He was also confident that a powerful marketing and brand campaign could be developed and launched with an attention grabbing grand opening to bring would be buyers in to the store.

But turning those substantial investments into a sure bet with guaranteed returns, would ultimately come down to three other critical factors: (1) the quality of the team he hired, (2) the quality and success of the leaders/coaches in bringing individuals together as an inspired, high performing team, and (3) how quickly that team could take ownership of and consistently deliver the memorable luxury client experience he envisioned.

His team of 48 managers and staff across sales, service, technical, client support and administrative functions had been handpicked from over 1800 applicants. Bernie was confident he had gotten step one right. Now –step 2-how to turn 48 individuals into one team capable and eager to create “memorable” experiences for luxury sales and service clients who bring very high expectations. This type of client experience had to be the standard of excellence. Consistent delivery of memorable experiences would generate a buzz in the marketplace and create a foundation of client loyalty and advocacy that would produce sustainable growth and success.

Team building strategy employed 3 important elements:  first, a powerful philosophy on true success, team behavior, and excellent coaching. These came from the wisdom and example of legendary UCLA basketball coach John R. Wooden and his teachings on The Pyramid of Success. Second, utilize a unique process and methodology for inspiring and teaching the Fort Mitchell team.

On three other occasions, Collection Auto Group Managers had experienced The John R Wooden Team Camp process, a dynamic combination of highly interactive classroom workshops and on the court basketball drills and competitive exercises. Each of those events had improved team culture and team spirit and enhanced coaching and leadership skills. Bernie was confident the Team Camp approach would work well to launch the store and create great team culture from day one. Third and finally, employ excellent teachers and coaches who could build teams and culture, and could also motivate and inspire. They also needed to be experts in luxury automotive and retail, and have a track record of accomplishing successful business launches. Lynn Guerin and Craig Impelman fit the bill perfectly.

With decisions made and the team in place, 48 individuals came together over 2 days in late September, on the campus of Northern Kentucky University. In highly stimulating classroom workshops, and fun, challegening, competitive on-court exercises, drills and games, The Mercedes-Benz of Fort Mitchell team was formed, prepared and bonded. Foundations of Pyramid of Success behavior like industriousness, enthusiasm, cooperation, skill, self control, condition, confidence, and competitive greatness were put in place. Positive attitude and team spirit were instilled. Lessons for success and wisdom for living were shared and taken away by each team member to be applied every day at work and at home. These lessons and behavior would be reinforced and sustained with weekly e-coaching. In 10-12 months, a Team Success Assessment would be taken providing an accurate gauge of just how well the team had come together and how strong the team culture was becoming.

This would be Season One for the Fort Mitchell team. Their goals are clear: make each day a masterpiece- make every customer experience memorable- become the industries best retail team. A dynasty in the making-perhaps, but the team broke camp just focusing on one great customer experience at a time.

Feedback from all team members following the camp made clear just what a great experience everyone had enjoyed. It also reinforced what head coaches Bernie Moreno and Don Paparella needed most to know—The Team was ready!