Let me share the best used car business model I have ever seen with you. I was fortunate to be the service director and lead technician for one of the most clever used-car sales businesses in the NY Metro area. In fact I have never come across one quite like it to this day
I will disclose why it succeeded and why it failed. Keep in mind I've seen really good Ideas like "Her First Car Lot" that sold cars that appealed to Lady drivers. But this dealership specialized in and only sold used upscale vehicles. The stock was mostly purchased at car auctions.
He would also acquire a few units from desperate owners in over their heads and advertised the cars for sale in local newspapers. He was known for offering a low ball cash now bailout offer that made people cry. He had a good amount of working capital and was always willing to walk away from a deal. Any purchased automobiles where obtained far below wholesale prices.
Then reconditioned both internally and externally and resold above retail value. I helped inspect and evaluate the cars before purchase. This gave the owner an idea of how high he could go and still make a profit. This is not what made his used car business unique. The basis for making a profit in the car sale business is to buy low and sell high. Although he did bring this skill to a new level it was not what made him successful.
It was his unique ability to make everyone involved with his dealership extremely happy that brought huge success. A big part of his success was stocking vehicles that sold with no effort. A car you would take a picture of and put on the desk at work next to the wife and kids!
Everybody wants to drive an upscale car like a Benz or BMW 5 Series. Even though these vehicles would usually have very high miles the reconditioning efforts put into the cars made them reliable and look fantastic. This coupled with a 90 day warranty made happy buyers. Another interesting part of the business model, was the owner had an in-house financing plan that would include the aftermarket warranty for one year.
This allowed my department to service the vehicle keeping it on the road despite the high mileage. After somebody started driving around in these classy cars they were approached by people green with envy. These potential clients would ask, "how can you afford to drive this high-line luxury car"?
Of course the answer was extended financing and high mileage, but the happy customers would tell friends and family about the fantastic experience with the dealership and exactly how to find the best used car business in town. Word of mouth is great advertising.
All of the above is still not what made this business so successful. As with anything sometimes location is the most important component of a successful facility. The business happened (not by accident) to be located directly across the street from a very high end gentleman's club.
The owner adjusted his hours of operation to coincide with the coming and going of the clientele from those businesses across street. His car lot used lighting effects that could be seen from space (Exaggeration).
Also the placement of the vehicles in relationship to the lights made them gleam like shooting stars. The cream of the crop of his used car stock was placed up on top of what they call vehicle spinners.
This was basically a rotating carousel to highlight the beauty of the high-line vehicle from all sides. Speaking of beauty a large number of the sales force were ex-employees from the gentleman club across the street. This made the clientele very happy.
I'm not coming right out and "saying it" but you can see how
the pieces all fit together. Customers would come in several times a
month to see the new inventory and chat with their favorite sales girl.This made them feel at home and more open minded to buy a car even if they didn't need one.
From my point of view, my department which was responsible for keeping these high mileage cars running and the customers satisfied with their buying decision was critical in the overall success.
Again the owner of this dealership surprised me by not only realizing this but supporting our department in unique ways. All of the mechanics that worked under me including myself were supplied with demonstration vehicles from the used car lot inventory.
In fact we were allowed to pick any vehicle from the entire stock. These vehicles came with dealer license plates
and were covered by the businesses auto insurance policy. The vehicles
were washed or detailed once a week to keep them looking good.
As you can imagine me and the other mechanics that worked in this department were overjoyed that we would receive a vehicle to operate at no charge. And not just any vehicle this would be a Lexus or BMW (you get the Idea) and in top-notch condition.
Not only was it easy to hire and retain mechanics but my department had the best mechanics in the area because of these perks. But the most ingenious part of giving everybody a demo was that these demonstration vehicles would sell like hotcakes.
The mechanics would drive them home and around town during off hours. Their friends and neighbors would say "Oh my God" I got have that car. It just so happened that it was for sale and in good condition.
The mechanic was motivated to become a part of the sales process as he would split the sales commission with the house 50/50 on his Demo unit. You can see that everything the owner did was in the best interest of business growth.
The fact that everybody who worked for or was a customer of the dealership had the best possible experience led to even more growth and prosperity. Unfortunately the owner who I have the utmost respect for had some personal problems that wound up crushing the dealership.
You may be familiar with this scenario as it applies to some Hollywood stars that experience the ultimate in success and can't deal with it.
So the story does have a sad ending but it was still the most excellent used car business model I have ever seen. It was unfortunate that the owner was not able to deal with the success he created. It was the best job I ever had and all of employee's felt the same way. I shared this story with you, now it's you're turn to share it with others!
I think that the automobile and all things associated with it can be financially rewarding. See more about the techniques I learned from my ex boss about making money with cars.
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