- Car shoppers visiting the Barry Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership will likely work with only one employee throughout the entire deal.
- The dealership doesn't employ a used car manager. Salespeople appraise and evaluate potential trade-ins.
- These steps have led to faster deals and more sales.
EPHRATA, Washington — A frequent pain point for car shoppers is having too many people involved in a car deal. Barry Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram has found a solution that keeps employees to a minimum and saves shoppers both time and money: Do-it-all salespeople.
Salespeople demonstrate the cars, make deals, collect customer credit information and print contracts. They then explain to customers what the contracts mean. If car shoppers have questions about how an extended warranty works or what it costs, the salesperson is who they'll talk to. There are no separate finance managers. The sales staff also handles trade-ins: There is no used-car manager here.
Combining those jobs saves the Chrysler dealership money, and it shares the savings with the salespeople in the form of a generous pay plan, says dealership owner Denver Morford.
Morford took over the leadership of the family-owned business in 2005. It sells about 700 cars per year in this city of roughly 6,000 residents. That's up from fewer than 200 cars annually in 2005.
Because of the attractive pay structure at the dealership, salespeople tend to stay for a long time, and this longevity helps them to become better sellers, Morford says. Having this long-term sales force ultimately makes deals flow more quickly and easily for the store's customers.
The dealership is distinctive in some other ways. Most dealerships still adhere to a shirt-and-tie dress code. But at Barry Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, owner Denver Morford and the salespeople are in jeans, polo shirts and baseball caps.
"We do things a little differently here," he says.
The financing practices are an example of that. The dealership doesn't mark up interest rates on loans, which is a common (and legal) dealership practice.
Before the shopper signs the final documents, the salesperson displays the bank's approval screen on the computer. It shows the deal "buy rate," which is the actual interest rate that the bank is charging on the loan. This dealership does not mark up the interest rate to make extra money. It gives the bank rate directly to the customer.
"I tell customers that they are approved," Morford says. "They usually say 'Yeah, I know.' But then I show them the actual approval from the bank, and explain to them that is your approval, this is the rate the bank is giving you, and I'm not going to tack any extra money on to it."
The used-car process also is unusual. Salespeople themselves appraise the cars coming in as trade-ins and determine their value. When deciding on how much to pay offer for a trade-in, the salespeople use more than just the commonly used-car value resources, such as Edmunds True Market Value (TMV®) or Kelley Blue Book. They use their common sense, too.
"The salesperson assesses the trade-in value, from the perspective of 'If I pay too much for the trade-in we won't be able to sell it, but if I don't pay enough, we won't make a deal.' They usually get the values right," Morford says.
Most of the used cars on the lot are trade-ins, rather than cars bought at used-car auctions, an indicator that the sales team is making deals that are good for Barry's business.
Morford says most of the people on staff have been at Barry Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram for years, including a service technician who is approaching the 40-year mark. As the business grows, it's taking on two new employees. Once they are up to speed, they will be able to do deals themselves, too. While they are still new, they will rely on senior salespeople to learn the Barry way of doing business.
"It's important to me that my customers know I do the right thing," Morford says. "You don't want to feel awkward when you see your customers when you're out shopping for groceries. Because in a town this size, you will."
Edmunds says: Business as usual? Not at this Chrysler dealership, which has figured out a way to improve the car-buying process for both customers and staff.