Audi Dominion in San Antonio is one of the top-performing Audi dealerships in the country, averaging more than 100 new vehicles and 170 used vehicles sold a month.

Martin Silva, the dealership’s general manager, attributes that success to building a staff that reflects the Alamo City’s diverse population and cultural backgrounds.

“When you live in a community like that and decide to go into any kind of retail business, the easiest decision is to provide opportunities to anyone who wants to put their head down and hustle and grind in an industry that’s competitive — but also to make sure that our customer has someone they can relate to at the dealership level when it comes to sales, technicians and service advisers.”

San Antonio is one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S., and Latino residents account for much of it.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, two-thirds of San Antonio’s 1.45 million residents in 2021 were Latino or Hispanic, and about 14 percent of the market’s population was born outside the U.S.

That means there are a significant number of San Antonians who are most comfortable speaking Spanish, particularly when making a decision about buying a new vehicle, Silva said. Roughly a fourth of Audi Dominion’s 180 employees are fluent in Spanish.

“Is speaking Spanish a prerequisite? No, it’s absolutely not,” Silva said. “But we want as many of our clients as possible to be comfortable when coming in, and seeing someone that’s able to communicate with them clearly is so important to that.”

The philosophy has led to higher customer retention and satisfaction scores, as customers return for maintenance or for their next purchase, Silva said.

But it goes beyond speaking Spanish.

Silva said his favorite thing to ask job candidates for an open position is to tell him a story about how they’ve had to overcome a challenge in their life by talking to strangers. It’s a question that tells Silva how comfortable that person is when talking with someone who might be different from them.

“Our clients are going to have a wide range of questions, needs, problems and concerns, and they’ll need to seek direction,” he said. “We need to have people who are comfortable with that. The diversity of our clientele shouldn’t be something we shy away from, but something that we embrace.”

The dealership also regularly produces a Spanish-language infomercial detailing the inventories of Audi Dominion, as well as that of Cavender Toyota.

Audi Dominion and Cavender Toyota are part of Cavender Auto Group, which operates 10 new-vehicle dealerships in the area.

The infomercial, broadcast on Spanish-language TV channels, is produced so that potential customers know before they come in that someone can speak with them in Spanish about a vehicle purchase.

“We wanted to be at the forefront in our community, making sure our Spanish-speaking population knew there was an option,” Silva said.

Other dealership employees reflect the broader diversity of the San Antonio region, particularly with regard to its Asian and Middle Eastern populations.

The region is also home to several military bases and boasts a large veteran population.

“The best way we know how to perform is to make sure our staff reflects the community at large,” he said, “and that means all cultures.”

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