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High school student learns entrepreneurial tips during visit to Fred Beans

Chevy managers share policies and procedures with Zach Woods, far right.

Fred Beans believes in mentoring so strongly that he has his entire management group encouraging it and happily accommodating requests when they arise. That was lucky for one ambitious high-school senior who visited recently and was given a full day of insider access to the workings of the organization.

Bill Souder, center, of Souder Construction, goes over the punch list for building renovations with Fred Beans, president, while Zach Woods watches and listens.

“Training never stops,” any manager across the company will tell you.

It’s one of the reasons that Fred Beans Family of Dealerships is one of the largest automotive groups in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Business manager Charles Paris makes a point.

In fact, the focus on training, along with the emphasis on individual support and personal advancement, were features that managers at Fred Beans Chevrolet in Doylestown made sure they imparted to Zach Woods, a senior at Plumstead Christian School who had scored a day at the Doylestown facilities with key personnel. Woods’s experience included tours, sitting in on business meetings and watching the daily operations of a car dealership.

“I was hoping to learn how a car dealership functions and how all the many moving parts fit together into the day-to-day operations,” Woods said. “I got much more from the day than I expected. I learned about everything from the way the cars are meticulously cleaned and parked to how they are then sold on the lot. I even observed a manager appraising a trade-in.”

General sales manager Tim Mears explains an issue.

Woods aims to major in entrepreneurship in college and someday start his own business. Because he has always been interested in cars, he set his sights on visiting the Beans organization to learn as much as he can, first hand.

Mark Donahue, general manager of the Chevrolet store, brought Woods right into a Monday morning management meeting where he and his business and sales managers explained what the reports reveal about sales and service and how they use training and one-on-one mentoring to help employees maximize their potential.

Every element of every system across the company’s operations has procedures in place that are stressed, discussed, referenced and reinforced. The over-arching objective is to deliver a value-filled experience to each customer who passes through the door of a Beans facility.

Andrew Cohen, left, talks to Zach Woods, right, and general manager Mark Donahue. Cohen is the top sales consultant not only for this Chevrolet store and Chevrolet’s region, but for all of the Fred Beans Family of Dealerships.

“I am hoping to return and speak with Mrs. Gilbert [Beth Beans Gilbert, vice president] and to spend more time with Mr. Beans,” said Woods. “I would really like to watch how they manage 18 dealerships every day.”

Woods picked up practices and procedures that he wants to implement someday in his own business.

“I plan on using this experience to help me determine not only what kind of business to start, but how I want to run it. After seeing the respect every employee has for Mr. Beans and observing how each one of them is valued, I know that is how I want to manage.”

He also learned why customers stay with Fred Beans.

“From the second you walk through the door you become part of the family. Every customer is welcomed with a smile and a handshake. The employees make a huge effort to go the extra mile, all for the customer. Even the employees want to stick around: I met people who have been with the Beans family for more than 35 years!

Plumstead Christian senior Zach Woods

“When I eventually start a business, whether car dealership or not, I am committed to treating my customers exactly like this.”