This month’s Autobody News distinctive dealership is Downtown Motors of L A. The parts manager is Jorge Valladares, and they provide parts for Porsche, Volkswagen, and Audi for the greater Los Angeles area. I spoke with Jorge recently, and found once again, the qualities that make a successful wholesale parts leader.
This month’s Autobody News’ featured dealership is Allan Vigil Ford in Morrow, GA. This locally-owned dealer has been in business for almost 30 years. The parts manager is Rusty Stewart and his parts department is one of the top Ford wholesalers in the nation. This is also one of the largest Ford parts departments in the nation, currently number 22 in sales, and on the rise. Rusty told me that they are the top power-train parts dealer in the area. Over $3 million dollars in inventory in a 60,000-square-foot warehouse assures his customers their orders will be filled the same day. Rusty knows that inventory alone cannot make a quality dealer, and backs up this impressive operation with the best personnel available. His parts department is staffed with 37 of the best people he can find.
This month’s distinctive dealer is Henderson Chevrolet, in Henderson, Nevada. I’m sure all of you know Las Vegas. Henderson is southwest of the strip, and so close you can’t tell the two cities apart. Henderson led the nation in new home builds for years, and then the real estate bubble burst. The construction industry had been driving the economic expansion of the area, and when that went away, the effects were catastrophic.
The parts manager, Pete Zachrison, estimates that 40% of his customers were forced to close their doors. The remainder held on by only a narrow margin. Pete knew their survival depended on efficient repair operations, and that his parts were a critical piece of their business. Pete decided to help his customers in the best way he could, with the quickest service possible. Pete set up a standard of shipping an order within one hour of the customer’s call.
Maxon Hyundai-Mazda of Union, New Jersey is this month’s recommended wholesale dealer. This dealer services all of New Jersey, and parts of New York as well. This is another family store, a father-to-son dealership for over 60 years. A million dollar inventory provides same day service for most orders, and next day ordering is of course standard procedure. Open Monday through Friday, from 8 to 6 and Saturday from 8 to 5.
When I think of a manufacturer who has had hard times over and over, and has still survived, the first name on my list is Chrysler. Of course we know that Chrysler is back from the brink. I would expect these dealers to be hardened, efficient and frugal, but I wasn’t expecting to be surprised.
This month’s distinctive dealer is South Motors Automotive Group in Miami, Florida. This dealer services Honda, BMW, VW, Suzuki, Mazda, Mini, and Infiniti. Parts manager Mike Franceschi contacted me after reading my article on “Apathy, the Real Opponent in the Wholesale Business.”
This month I want to single out Stockton 12 Honda, in Sandy, Utah. Owned by former basketball star John Stockton, this dealership is located just a short drive south of Salt Lake City. Their web site is stockton12honda.com.
This month’s article is about changes—changes which I believe are for the better. One change I want to talk about is in inventory management. In the 1970s, automotive dealers needed to be warehouses. Stock orders came weekly; or even monthly. Special orders took three days, unless you paid extra for the overnight surcharge. If a dealer wanted to have good Customer Satisfaction scores, he did his best to always have the needed part on hand. This dumped the responsibility of customer service on the dealer’s parts department. They needed to carry, on the shelf, massive inventories of 5,000 numbers, or more. Manufacturers promoted this system, and the belief that large inventories promoted better scores. Of course, dealers absorbed the cost of these slow moving inventories; in the never ending search for better customer satisfaction scores.
The newest member of the Autobody News Distinctive Dealerships Group is Audi-Mission Viejo in Southern California. A relatively new dealer, only seven years old, Audi-Mission Viejo has managed to thrive by always putting quality first.
I have written about two dealerships recently, the Lasher Auto Group, and Acura of Westchester, and their common ground to success. They both have a positive attitude. They take pride in their work, and enjoy taking good care of their customers. They deliver their service along with the parts. Their customers know that their business is valued, and become loyal partners of the dealership. Everyone is making money and staying happy!
The last time I wrote about a dealership it was a California multi-line dealer near Sacramento. This time it is a single franchise dealer in the metro New York area. You would think that they had nothing in common, but you would be mistaken. Both dealers are successful, and both have the same winning philosophy; customer service.
What makes a dealership distinctive? By my definition, that dealership must have a greater image of integrity, service, and loyalty than their competition. They have the greatest number of regular customers, and the best word-of-mouth reputation. Even their smallest customers know that their business is appreciated.
APATHY – absence of passion, emotion, or excitement.
I write this story as an example of what not to do. I also write this story as a fable, to protect the indignant. Therefore, it starts like this: