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Tom White Jr.

Tom White Jr. General Manager - Special Projects

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People ask me all the time what it is we are doing to sell the number of cars we are selling in the middle of an extremely challenging environment. For those of you unfamiliar with me, I am involved in a brand new Suzuki start up currently selling out of a temporary (read mobile home) facility in Wichita, Kansas. We opened the doors in October of 2007 and are the 10th highest volume Suzuki dealership in the U.S. through July (I state this not to be self serving, but to give some background).

So, what is it that we do that others are, apparently, unable to do? You could make an argument that our people are better (the management team has been together for over 15 years), our processes are better (yep, we track and measure everything), our economy is better (we are fortunate to be in the Midwest which has been spared many of the challenges affecting other parts of the counrty), or even our product is better (umm, probably not). Luck might play a part as well.

I believe the answer lies in our ability to differentiate ourselves from our competition.

We do this by offering a different "selling proposition" than our competitors do. We spend much of our time and efforts telling OUR story which is unique, quirky, and absolutely believable. Some of the unique things we do include:
- refusing to hire anyone that has ever worked for another car dealership;
- paying our people a salary and bonusing them on production rather than paying commissions;
- disbanding the traditional F&I department in favor of charging the sales department with handling the customer from womb to tomb;
- utlizing permission based marketing efforts that engage, rather than enrage, the consumer;
- offering a 3 day, no questions asked, money back guarantee, regardless whether we sold a new or used vehicle.
-pricing vehicles based on the market as opposed to the margin available;
- creating a fun and highly energetic environment whereby consumers want to buy, as opposed to being sold, our goods;
- looking past profit opportunities to place consumers in a better situation than they were originally in;
- refraining from the smoke and mirrors, loss leader advertising, that permeates our industry;
- truly having fun at work and enjoying the people that we choose to work at our dealership;
- providing on going and highly interactive training on a minute-by-minute basis;
- teaching our co-workers to become business owners;
- practicing "servant leadership" whereby we recognize the efforts of all our co-workers and strive to lead from the front.

Now, my friends, here's the rub. Many will read this and try to emulate or copy the business model. Unfortunately (fortunately for my organization), most will not have the discipline or drive to change their culture to one like ours. They might catch on, but they will never catch up.

My question to you is, are you willing to make the sacrifices necessary to effect change in your organization? It certainly isn't easy, but the rewards will send your business to levels that might just surprise you.

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