Denny Johnson has had a long-time connection with Beasley Honda. He grew up in Ozark, Ala., where Beasley has been a Honda franchise for 49 years. When Johnson was younger, he remembers countless times when he’d make his father stop at Beasley’s just to take a look at all the new ATVs, motorcycles and dirtbikes.
“I used to get on his nerves,” said Johnson. “We were at the store every weekend, and it was always an act of Congress to get me out.”
At age 4, his father bought him his first four-wheeler from Beasley, and at age 14, Johnson purchased for himself a Honda Rebel. “Later on, as soon as I got my first full-time job, I came up to Beasley and got a Honda CBR,” said Johnson.
Johnson’s relationship with Beasley is not unlike the experience that others in the community have had. Because Ozark, Ala., is such a tight-knit community, Beasley Honda is a well-known family-owned business that focuses on the customer and the community.
“It’s a laid-back dealership. We’re not pushy with our customers at all. We want to give them the best buying experience they could ask for,” says Johnson, who has worked for Beasley Honda for a total of five years now.
Johnson started with Beasley Honda as finance manager in May of 2004. Prior to working there, he sold cars for a living. Johnson worked at the dealership for a year and in September of 2005, left to pursue a land-surveying job.
“I loved to travel and that was the biggest reason I took that job,” said Johnson. “But in 2009 everything slowed down. I worked for the government, and they were cancelling contracts. Luckily, Beasley had an opening for a finance manager and I came right back in.”
Coming into the dealership in 2009 wasn’t the easiest transition for Johnson. That year, the market began to drop, and Johnson struggled to keep units moving and people financed. “In 2004 and ’05, we had a lot of cash customers and lots of sales. When I came back in 2009, my medium credit person, who would’ve been tier 4 in ’05, was being declined,” said Johnson.
Johnson dug deep and tried to get every deal done in some way. Not only did he negotiate with the banks, but he had to negotiate with customers, too. “During that time, I just had to try every avenue. I’d even have to encourage customers to move on a unit. If they were looking at a bigger ATV and couldn’t receive financing, I’d encourage them to look at a medium-sized ATV instead. It was a question of how bad they wanted to ride.”
Johnson’s hard work during those times paid off. In 2009, he was recognized by the American Honda Finance Council of Excellence with an award and has continued to receive that award for the past four years. Johnson works hard with other lenders too, including companies like GE Capital and Nationwide.
Johnson recognizes that it’s still hard to do his job and get customers financed. “It’s a surprise to see a credit application you’ve submitted to one lender get turned down, and when you send it to another lender it’s approved with a better interest rate than you were expecting,” said Johnson. For him, it’s a difficult thing to balance. He wants to keep a great relationship with both the customer and the bank as he tries to get the best deal for both of them.
One of the hardest conversations Johnson has to have with a customer is telling them they’re turned down or that they’ll be paying a high interest rate and there’s no clear reason why. “You really have to watch what you say and what you do,” said Johnson. “If I get a ‘no’ for an answer from the bank, I’m going to do everything I can to find out why.”
Despite these frustrations, Johnson has succeeded in his business and finance role at Beasley Honda. Because of his in-depth knowledge of the industry and ability to sell finance, John Beasley, whom Johnson calls a “good, good friend,” submitted the nomination for MPN’s Dealership Superstar. In his nomination, Beasley beams over Johnson’s ability to manage and run the store. “I know when I take off, the store is safe,” says Beasley. “Denny is the go-to man for the store. You could put him under sales or finance because he does a great job in both of them.”
Johnson was shocked to win the award, but it comes as no surprise to MPN that he beat his nearest competitor by an impressive 2,500 votes with help from his customers, co-workers and friends’ votes. Johnson’s dedication to his work and his relationship with his customers propelled him to this victory. “It feels good to know that I had friends, family and customers supporting me,” he said.
Johnson leads a balanced life — spending his time away from the dealership watching MotoGP and football with friends, cooking out and eating wings with friends and family, and spending time with his son. He sees a lot of himself in his son, who is just now starting to ride and continuously asks his father to stop at Beasley just to get a glimpse of the new bikes and ATVs. On longer weekends, Johnson tries to make it out to the track where he’ll ride his Yamaha R6 channeling his favorite MotoGP racer, Valentino Rossi.
As MPN’s Dealership Superstar, Johnson has shown innovation in his field, great compassion for Beasley Honda and its customers, and remarkable salesmanship. For that, he has won $600 and was honored at MPN’s Dinner With the Stars during AIMExpo. MPN would also like to congratulate each of the other well-deserved Dealership Superstar finalists: Rob Blair from Colonial Harley-Davidson, Bryan Blanott from Frazier’s Harley-Davidson, Dan Lavergne from Des Plaines Honda and John Marshall from Montgomery Honda Yamaha. Each of the four runner-ups will receive $300.