Everybody loves a good mom and pop story.
Many consumers are making a concerted effort these days to shop local, to support hometown businesses, and really get to know the people they do business with.
“90% of our repeat and referral customers are from within 50 miles of our store,” says Jaime Tuff, General Manager at TDR Auto Plaza, a used car dealer in Kearney, MO. He’s also the General Sales Manager, Sales Manager, and Janitor.
The man wears a lot of hats.
“Relationships are our number one thing for us as a smaller dealership. We rely on our repeat and referral business. I mean that’s our number one provider of sales.”
“That’s the coolest part,” Jaime says. “It’s what I love about this business now that I’ve been long enough in this one place: to see those kids that were running around in the showroom, playing in the playroom, and now they’re turning 16 and buying a car. Full circle. I like that”
TDR Auto Plaza is the only car dealership that Jaime has ever worked for. 9 years ago he was selling water, but his talents for finding common ground with every customer and turning strangers on the car lot into lifelong friends propelled him to a seat in the big chair.
Buying a used car from a quality used car dealer like TDR Auto Plaza, in practice isn’t much different from buying a used car from a franchised new car dealership
Franchised dealerships, Ford dealerships, Chevy dealerships, Toyota stores, all the rest of them, they ride the waves caused by billions of factory dollars spent on fancy Madison Avenue Super Bowl Ads. Billions offering discount financing from their finance divisions. Billions more spent providing factory warranties for certified used cars.
Independent used car dealers like TDR Auto Plaza really only have one tool at their disposal to convince you to trust them: Be trustworthy.
“A certification is a dealer’s desperation to show the customer how good their car is. That’s all a certification is. We’ve done all of this stuff, right, and we have certified that with Ford. We have given them all the correct documentation. Done the correct work. Shown them the correct receipts and we can now certify this vehicle,” says Todd Gentry, GSM of TDR Auto Plaza’s sister dealership Gary Crossley Ford in Liberty, MO.
“At Gary Crossley Ford, and TDR, as well, our reconditioning standards are above and beyond. We don’t do a lot of certification. We don’t do a lot of certification because we are fully transparent in the process.”
“The cool advantage at TDR is there are so many local customers that come back. They start to develop relationships with the mechanics. They can just go back there and the mechanic will tell them I did this and I thought the tranny shifted great. I checked the fluids.”
“It’s a much more at-home feeling.”
While it may be homey, TDR Auto Plaza is far from small.
Not all used car dealerships even have a service department, but TDR has 5 service bays so it’s a similar size operation to many big-city franchised dealerships.
Jaime and his team also benefit from the close relationship with Gary Crossley Ford, the largest franchised ford dealership in the Kansas City region.
Their shared ownership allows the two wildly successful automotive operations to learn from each other, create a common bank of institutional and industry knowledge, and serve a widely diversified customer base.
The franchised car dealership, Gary Crossley Ford, and the independent used car dealer, TDR Auto Plaza differ greatly from the third type of car dealer:
The buy here pay here car lot.
When people tell you how horrible car dealers are, they’re often thinking of some fly-by-night buy here pay here used car jockey operating out of a rusty trailer on a dusty lot.
Buy here pay here lots often prey on desperate consumers suffering from credit challenges charging astronomical markups and interest rates so high they’d make a loan shark blush. Then they strap a tracking device on your car and shut it completely down if you’re 10 minutes late on a payment.
Once they start tacking on late charges, collection penalties, and repo fees, car buyers who were already in precarious situations can find themselves in a hole they can’t dig out of.
Because of their size, reputation in the financial industry, and long-standing relationships with banks, TDR Automotive and Gary Crossley Ford can arrange financing for 99.9% of all car buyers regardless of their credit situation.
Most importantly because of the dealerships’ relationships with banks and financial institutions, all car payments get reported to the credit bureaus. Consumers can then refinance in as little as a year, cut their rates in half, and dramatically lower their payments.
It’s service like that that keeps customers coming back, year after year, and bringing their kids.
Ask A Car Dealer is hosted by Joey Little and Todd Gentry from Gary Crossley Ford in Kansas City. Drop them a message with your questions about the car business, about high school football, and random Chris Farley Movies
Any views or opinions expressed are the views and opinions of Joey and Todd. They’re the ones that expressed them after all. No employers, sponsors, or holy men of any kind have blessed and sanctified their ramblings.