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Michael Slaten is a Business Management major and Gregorian Fellow who graduates May 2020.
At his hometown of Nacogdoches, Texas, he got a front-row seat to business management at an internship at Tipton Ford Lincoln, a large local business with a deep history.
“I completed the Management Experience Learning Program. Throughout the summer I worked in the service department at the dealership and learned skills as a service advisor,” he said.
“I was surprised by the complexity of the car dealership. There are so many different departments at the dealership and they all have to work together in order to maintain great performance,” he said.
Car dealerships talk about “management by sales” and “management by objective.” The first is the traditional, entrepreneurial model of car sales — you find a good fit between customer and car, and keep the customer happy with prompt service. You had to pay attention to marketing, and overhead costs vs. profit per car sold.
“Management by objective” is more high tech and more like a franchise model. The dealership sets a required number of contacts with customers the car dealer should make, a certain schedule of conversations with employees, department heads, etc.
“This was the first summer that I worked as an intern. I worked for this company for the past five summers but in a different role,” Slaten said.
James Tipton established Tipton Ford in Nacogdoches in 1959 and stories about him are legend. Tipton “brought creative, aggressive advertising and promotion” to town, according to then-radio station owner Bob Dunn.
Tipton would give away a half gallon of ice cream for test drives in the 1960s. “Once you got your ice cream, you had to hurry straight home and get it into the freezer,” said Dunn. “That meant you wouldn’t stop at any other dealerships after visiting Tipton.”
“It was valuable to be able to learn about the internal operations of a large business,” said Slaten.
Slaten is known to Gregorian readers for a piece highlighting him as a successful Seton Home School graduate.