Wheel of Fortune

NB|AZ® Puts Auto Dealership in the Driver’s Seat When it Comes to Growing Their Business

Jack Schneider knows the auto business from the inside out…literally. In 1978, right out of high school, he got a job as a car mechanic in Brea, California, and has worked in the industry ever since. “I’ve always been a car guy. I just have a knack for it,” he says.

Schneider’s career as an auto mechanic, however, was short-lived as he discovered he had a knack for sales, too. This led to opening his first car dealership in Southern California in the early ’80s. Schneider eventually owned eight, pre-owned auto dealerships before selling all of them in the late ’90s.

While he worked as a consultant helping friends operate their dealerships, Schneider realized semi-retirement wasn’t exactly for him. “Within a few days, I regretted the decision,” he says. “I’m the kind of person that has to go to work and feel connected to my job. I couldn’t wait to get back into the car business.”

The problem was that Schneider had signed a non-compete clause, so he couldn’t open any other dealerships in his home state. That prompted a move with his family to Arizona in 2005 and after helping a colleague open a dealership here, Schneider officially got back in the auto business, launching Certified Benz & Beemer at 68th Street and McDowell Road in Scottsdale in 2007.

The independent, auto dealership—which specializes in pre-owned Mercedes Benz and BMWs as well as other premium, pre-owned vehicles—is a family-owned business that includes his wife, daughter, son, two nephews, a niece and two sons-in-law who are on staff. Schneider’s intent was to change the perception of the used car buying experience and focus primarily on customer service in the luxury brand category.

“I know from being in the car business that people have a love-hate relationship with car dealerships,” he says. “I wanted to take away that friction and provide zero pressure in a relaxed atmosphere with a customer-friendly focus. I knew I wanted to do it better and right. The idea was that a customer cannot come here and be unhappy. We’re not going to allow it.”

In an industry with a track record for strong selling tactics, that was a tall order. But Schneider’s approach has paid off. Certified Benz & Beemer has consistently earned awards for excellence in customer service. In 2013, the dealership was named Used Car Dealer of the Year in the U.S. and Dealer of the Year in Arizona in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 by Dealerrater.com. Its online dealer reviews are impressive, as well, boasting more than 8,000 reviews with a 99 percent positive rating.

“People read our reviews and say, ‘There’s a dealer I can trust,’ ” says Schneider.

The dealership’s reputation also benefits from a healthy word-of-mouth network, as John Boyd, NB|AZ SVP Regional Commercial Manager, discovered when he bought a car from Schneider three years ago based on a referral. The transaction led to a conversation with the dealer about how the bank could help him do business—and Schneider was sold.

“We liked what we heard and we knew NB|AZ had a personal touch,” he says.

Besides a deposit relationship, NB|AZ has refinanced Certified Benz & Beemer’s real estate loan, financed the purchase of a new building, and established a commercial line of credit that has leveraged the dealership’s purchasing power.

“We’re a capital intensive business,” says Schneider. “On any given day, we can spend $1 million buying cars. If a dealer or an individual is selling multiple cars at one time, we have the capacity with the line of credit to act quickly.”

Schneider is particularly impressed with how responsive and easy it’s been to do business with NB|AZ. “They’ve given us the financial means to expand, sell and service more cars. Every time, they’ve said yes and made it easy and simple,” he says.

It’s been a mutually beneficial relationship, according to Boyd. “We’re a business bank and culturally a much better fit for Jack and the dealership. We have a good comfort level. Car dealerships carry a lot of risk with thin margins. They need to be efficient and Certified Benz & Beemer hits the numbers,” he says.

“And we provide a high-touch treatment, which is refreshing for Certified Benz & Beemer. They make customers feel like they are the most important clients and it’s a formula that works for NB|AZ, too.”