According to Andy Jones, principal of the Gerald Jones Auto Group, Augusta, Ga., is a “long-term town,” with a number of competing dealerships that have been around as long as the ones his father founded beginning in the 1970s. Although that describes the longevity of many of the auto dealerships in town, it can also be used to describe the tight-knit nature of the community itself.

Jones says the Gerald Jones Auto Group believes its responsibilities to the community extend beyond providing customers with the highest-quality vehicles at the fairest prices. The Gerald Jones Auto Group owes its success in large part to the ways in which it goes above and beyond for its customers and the community at large, Jones says, and that continues to be the company’s main focus for the future. 

Headquartered in Martinez, Ga., the Gerald Jones Auto Group has been serving the greater Augusta area for 40 years. The group was founded by Jones’ father, Gerald, who already had decades of experience selling cars for other dealers when he opened his first dealership in Augusta in 1974. From that first dealership with only 10 employees, the business of Jones’ father grew steadily, expanding to include vehicles from manufacturers such as Honda and Volvo. Jones joined the group upon finishing school, and helped oversee the group’s further expansion. Today, the Gerald Jones Auto Group has more than 200 employees and annual sales in excess of $250 million. 

The Gerald Jones Auto Group consists of seven dealerships serving the Central Savannah River Area selling Volkswagen, Honda, Volvo, Audi, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Mazda vehicles. Jones says he believes that by treating its customers and employees equally well, the company should be in a good position to extend its success for another 30 years and beyond. 

Treating People Right

Gerald Jones Auto Group emphasizes how important it is to ensure every customer feels satisfied in their car-buying process, and Jones says this extends to making sure customers have a literal hotline to connect with him. Each dealership in the group has a red phone that dials Jones’ personal cell phone line. He says the stated purpose of this hotline is for customers to connect with him personally if they feel unsatisfied with their experience for any reason. Fortunately, he says, the line is not used much, and nearly half of the time it is used by customers who want to express their satisfaction. 

Just as important is that its employees are satisfied, too. Jones understands how hard his employees work, often putting in 50 hours a week with only Sundays off. He says he strives to make sure his employees have the proper balance between work, church and family time, and cites a period during which two of his salespeople needed time off for funerals. He made sure those salespeople got the time off they needed with pay, and the company’s devotion to its co-workers is returned. “I just think that if you treat people right, it comes back to you,” he says.

Giving Back

Treating people right includes giving back to the community, and Gerald Jones Auto Group is a major contributor to a number of charitable events and organizations throughout the area. In addition to helping the area’s homeless and hungry through The Salvation Army of Augusta’s Center of Hope, Gerald Jones Auto Group also contributes in less formal ways. For example, the dealerships donated the use of several generators during an ice storm in February that knocked out power for a few days. 

Gerald Jones Auto Group also is a major supporter of the Thunder Over Augusta event, which celebrates Armed Forces Day with free entertainment in support of the Augusta Warrior Project. More than 45,000 people attended the event last year, which Jones says builds awareness of veterans’ issues. “I think that you just have to give something back,” he says. 

Higher and Higher

Gerald Jones Auto Group experienced its best month ever in May, and Jones says the group is working hard to ensure that it continues to improve on its success. Jones says the company is investing in training for its employees to handle the increasing number of sales leads generated from the Internet, as well as for service technicians to handle the increasing amount of technology. 

The sky appears to be the limit for Gerald Jones Auto Group, but Jones stresses that it’s only because of the hard work and expertise of his employees that the company has reached its level of success. “It’s not my success, it’s my co-workers’ success,” he says. “Without my guys, I’m nothing.” 

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