Driven to Succeed: Brian Benstock

Whether it’s leasing a new car or selling a certified used one, Paragon has both strategies covered. Their billboards advertise convincing campaign messages of $5 a day or $6 a day for leasing Civics and Accords, respectively. The auto group has its own Certified Pre-Owned program and a sharp vice president who knows all the different opportunities to out maneuver the competition. “These Hondas can last 200,000 to 250,000 miles,” Benstock makes his sales pitch. “You don’t pay 90 percent of the value— maybe just 60 percent. But you’re still getting 90 percent of its use.

Seen as a separate franchise, Paragon has allotted a stand-alone facility for the pre-owned Hondas and Acuras with its own staff and merchandising. “We’ve made the certified pre-owned building look like a factory facility to offer our customers the same experience as buying a new car.”

With 250 Paragon Auto Group employees, Benstock admits they overstaff themselves to reduce the wait time for their customers. “We’ve made it easier for people to buy a car with us,” he says. “We get people from start to finish, in and out, in less than an hour.” The company utilizes mobile technology, alerting customers via text when their car is ready from the service shop. “People don’t have to call us and get put on hold.” Text messaging has also reduced photo traffic to the dealership, allowing personnel to spend more time with the in-store customers.

The Driving Force

As the face behind Paragon Auto Group since Singer’s passing in 2006, Benstock has made himself one of the most recognizable names in the industry. The marketing company he hired has booked him interviews with the local press and landed him in stories from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and New York Post as well as other national media outlets. Search his name in YouTube and you’ll pull up 18 video interviews with the Honda “Dealer of the Year.”

But Benstock is not just showing face in the media. He’s at work seven days a week, 12 hours a day, much like his former partner and mentor. “To call Paul Singer a workaholic was an understatement,” Benstock explains. “His work ethic was second to none. I would arrive at the dealership at 9 a.m., and his car would already be there, even though he lives 1.5 hours from work. I would leave the dealership at 9 p.m.—12 hours later—and his car would still be there. The next day at 9 a.m., Singer’s car was there. And this was seven days a week. The man didn’t need the money; it was something much greater. It was passion.”

Benstock adopted Singer’s work habits as well as his hobby. Competing in his 13th marathon this November in New York City, Paragon’s VP runs for the man who taught him everything he knows about the trade. Singer and his doctor were both marathon runners and the goal was for him to beat the lung cancer and run the 2006 NYC marathon. When he didn’t, Benstock volunteered to run in his place. “We were partners,” he simply justifies.

With absolutely no prior training, Benstock ran the 26.2 miles in 4:35:35 (his PR, however, is 3:20:18). “I crossed the finish line crying like a baby,” he recalls. “I kept on thinking about all the things that man has done for me. He wasn’t there, but he was still guiding me. After that, I was hooked and signed up for the next.”

But even in running shorts and shoes, Benstock still maintains the mindset of a dealer. “Business is a marathon. There are miles you feel great, and there are miles you feel terrible. But the goal is always to finish and to finish it strong. We don’t ever stop.”