Employee Profile: Cruz Perez | McLarty Daniel CDJRF of Springdale
It’s rare to catch Cruz Perez when he isn’t smiling.
A salesperson at McLarty Daniel Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram for the past three years, Perez lives with his family and young son about an hour away in Berryville. The commute is worth it, he said, to work at a place where he feels like he’s making a difference for Northwest Arkansas.
Now 31, Perez worked at a local poultry plant before coming to McLarty Daniel CDJRF. Working there, he couldn’t help but think there had to be something better, both for him and his son, who is almost three years old. That “something better” turned out to be selling cars at McLarty Daniel CDJRF.
“I enjoy what I do,” he said. “Now that I’ve been here long enough, I have repeat customers who come back to me for different reasons: their kid has graduated high school, or they’ve got a car that’s breaking down. Maybe they added another family member, like a new baby, and they need a new vehicle. I stay for the new customers and the old customers who need my help.”
Perez said it’s a big responsibility to sell someone a car, which can be a major investment for working families. When selling a vehicle, he said, he’s able to give families added peace of mind, knowing that with a a new and used dealership, a full body shop, and a fully-staffed service and repair center at McLarty Daniel CDJRF, the customers who buy from him will be able to come back to the dealership for help, no matter what life brings their way, from car accidents to oil changes to major warranty repairs.
“Sales, financing, collision: at this dealership, we have everything under one roof,” he said. “Maybe you want to get your oil changed. Maybe you want to buy some new wheels. We can do that. We have a parts department, we have a collision center. If you’re having a bad day with an auto accident, you can get it towed here to be fixed and then get a rental car. Maybe you can look at another car. We make it easier. We can do it all.”
Having grown up speaking both English and Spanish is definitely an asset in Springdale, where the Hispanic population has boomed in the past few decades. Spanish-speaking customers are no different than any other customer, he said, but sometimes dealing with both the anxiety of car buying and the language barrier can be intimidating. “They’re not looking for anything different or special,” he said. “Sometimes they just need to get over that language barrier — somebody to take care of them in their own language. I can do that.”
Perez said that when it comes to being in sales, he tells people that he approaches it kind of the way Walmart associates handle their jobs. They’re there for the customer if they need assistance and ready to offer help, but they don’t hover over every person who walks in.
“When somebody pulls up, I don’t smother them,” he said. “I handshake everybody. I have a son, and I know if somebody takes care of my son, that’s the world to me. So I take care of even the customers’ little ones, giving them a handshake. You ask them what they need: How many seat belts? How much space? Everything. They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. That’s my process.”
After figuring out which car is right for the customer’s needs and their budget, Perez said, he makes sure to keep taking care of them after the sale. “You may sell somebody one car, but you give them your cell number and you take care of them every time they need something — from small questions to what an oil change costs to ‘hey, my engine light is on.’” he said. “The most important thing is taking care of people…. That first purchase is so important. You do that right, and you’ll see them again: oil changes, questions, when they’re ready to trade in someday. We’re making customers for life.”
A homebody who said his first priority during his time off is spending time with his family and his son, Perez said that he likes working at McLarty Daniel CDJRF because every member of the dealership staff treats every customer with the respect they would give to a member of their own family. That, and the changes he’s able to make in the lives of those who come in, seeking his help.
“I had one lady who had just gotten divorced,” he said. “The loans were in her husband’s name, so she was left without a car. She came in and I helped her, and right before she drove off in her new car, she gave me a great big hug. Everything fell into place for her, right when she needed it. It felt great. I was only a small part of fixing what she was going through, but it was a big deal for her.”
It’s all part of why Perez has a heartfelt belief that the dealership’s first priority is taking care of the customers. “That’s the main thing,” he said. “I have confidence in this place. I see the outreach into the community. I see us letting people know that we’re here not only to sell you a car, but to help take care of Springdale.”