There’s no doubt that car buyers have a lot of choices when it comes to finding their next vehicle. With so many options on the table, it takes a lot for a dealer to establish itself as a trusted name and become the kind of dealer customers turn to time after time. Laurel Auto Group has done just that since its inception in 1983 with a single Chrysler dealership in Pennsylvania. The father-and-son team of President Michael Smith and Vice President of Operations Matt Smith says the secret to the company’s years of success throughout Pennsylvania is rooted in the core philosophies that drive every interaction it has with its customers and its employees. 

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At Grogan’s Towne, customer service is its secret to success. “Customer service satisfaction is the centerpiece of our philosophy,” Managing Partner Denny Amrhein says. This focus has paid off, making Grogan’s Towne one of the largest volume Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram stores in Toledo, Ohio. 

The dealership has been in business for six decades with many changes occurring during those years. Grogan’s Towne weathered the downturn associated with the 2008 recession and subsequent Chrysler bankruptcy, emerging more successful than ever.

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When asked why his group of automotive dealerships has succeeded, Chairman Larry Crain Sr. attributes it to people and capital. “Through time and experience, we’ve learned that growing our team within our own organization works best for us,” Crain declares. “We try to promote from within. We may hire some managers from the outside, but not as a general rule.” 

Regarding capital, the senior Crain emphasizes putting long-term investment ahead of short-term gain. “I’ve always been a saver,” he laughs. “You’ve got all kinds of opportunities with how to use the profits that you’re generating, and we have been very diligent in sacrificing what we might do personally vs. the long-term in order to grow.”

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Charles Clark Chevrolet Co. is a dynamic, expansive and expanding dealership company with 81 years of family operations history.

“We are on the go and doing a lot of modernization,” says Kirk Clark, president. “We have just accepted construction bids for our second upgrade in the last five years.”

It built a new Honda dealership and expanded its Chevrolet site, moving its entire used car lot. “This allows us to have a really substantial footprint,” Clark states. 

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Although Braeger Automotive Group is one of the oldest auto dealers in Milwaukee, Chairman Todd Reardon says the youth within the company is what makes it a success today. Founded in 1923, Braeger has been selling new and used Chevrolets and Fords in the Milwaukee market through multiple generations of family ownership. Reardon started with the company in 1990 as Bob Braeger, son of founder Oscar Braeger, was looking for someone to lead the company for the family. 

Soon after he took the reins of the company, Reardon hired General Manager John Maneage, as well as a new core of young, motivated professionals. Reardon says this core leadership has remained consistent at Braeger Automotive Group for nearly 20 years, and it is the consistency of that core that provides the company with its greatest strengths. “We really have never had anyone quit, and that’s probably our biggest strength,” Reardon says.

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Antelope Valley Ford has valued its customers and their time since it opened for business in 1979. That dedication continues today as the dealership recently completed a million-dollar renovation on its showroom and service department, which includes new software that will make the business more efficient. 

The Lancaster, Calif.-based car dealership began remodeling this past spring because, as President and owner Mike Johnson says, it was “getting old and stale.” Antelope Valley Ford remodeled 4,000 square feet of its showroom to house its new inventory of Lincoln vehicles and converted 11,000 square feet to become a Ford Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center. Ford’s Quick Lane offers routine vehicle maintenance, such as oil and filter changes, and light repair services

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When customers get their vehicles serviced at the Zeigler Auto Group’s dealerships, associates give them treatment that they will not find anywhere else, President Aaron Zeigler says. “We’re doing some unique things that you wouldn’t see in a traditional dealership,” he declares.

As the company’s clients wait for their cars to be repaired, they are given headphones and an iPad, enabling them to watch movies or TV shows on Netflix. The customers’ children also can enjoy themselves in special kids’ areas, where they can play Nintendo Wii games “to keep them entertained,” Zeigler describes.

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Ford Motor Company’s Triple Crown performance award is the highest – and rarest – honor available to its dealerships. Only 23 of Ford’s more than 3,000 dealers nationwide attain the recognition, which encompasses the company’s three top honors: the President’s Award for customer satisfaction, the Ford Top 100 award for dealership sales performance and the Ford Customer Service Division’s ESP Premier Club recognition for warranty sales.

Achieving the honor just once is a noteworthy enough accomplishment for a dealership owner. Doing it more than once, and at two different locations, truly places a dealer apart from not only their peers at Ford, but also the industry as a whole.

Read more: World Class Automotive Group

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