The Fastest Growing Dealership in KC
Get an inside scoop on how the underdog of the Kansas City market became the fastest growing dealership. Keep reading for an exclusive interview with the Dealer Principal of Heartland Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Ram in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, Grant White.
How did you finally end up managing your own dealership?
I craved opportunities to grow and more influence over decisions which inspired my goal to own and manage my own car lot. When I stumbled upon the Roberts Auto Group my goals began to fall into place when they invited to me run their store, Heartland Chevrolet in Liberty, Missouri. After two and a half years, I was offered the opportunity to buy into the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram store in Excelsior Springs that the auto group had acquired in 2017. It's been nine months now since I became the dealer principal of Heartland Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Ram in Excelsior Springs, Missouri.
This store was initially selling 15 cars a month - which is very slow! When the Roberts Auto Group bought it in 2017, they doubled volume; by plugging the store into a larger sales operation. Since September of 2018, we’ve increased volume to around 100 cars a month. There truly is a night-and-day difference in the day to day processes, company culture, and overall mood here.
You’ve made a dramatic turnaround - How did you do it?
It all comes down to the people you surround yourself with. Most of my team members are highly trained professionals with many years of experience. They chose to come to work in Excelsior Springs, Missouri with me when I became dealer principal. So, even though this is a destination store, we are very keyed in - we work in Excelsior Springs because we choose to!
But there’s not one thing that we do that increases business - it’s a game of inches. Over the last six months we changed 20 to 30 little things that each improved the daily operations of this store.
For example, we changed our pricing model to market-based pricing. I monitor the market and my own inventory on a daily basis. I treat it as a commodity - if it’s trading at a certain price I change my prices to keep it moving. If I have to make $1 on a car because that’s the way the prices are going, I’m happy to do that - stale inventory just loses you money. We are generally very competitive on prices, both new and pre-owned. I may adjust 30-40 pre-owned cars on a morning, so my staff stays on their toes.
We’ve also dramatically improved the dealership’s relationship with the local Excelsior Springs community - we donate to the Chamber, local charities such as Meet the Need, and sports teams. We want people to feel good about our place in the community. The physical location of the dealership has also changed dramatically. First, we filled the lot with the maximum amount of inventory. We had the grassy lot below the property weeded, cleaned out, and filled with inventory as well. When you drive by Heartland CDJR now, people say, “We don’t know what’s going on here, but something big definitely is!”
Why do people choose to do business with you?
I want it to be as easy as possible for a customer to buy a car, and I want it to be as easy as possible for my team to work here. Sometimes people get into the car business, get quickly promoted or obtain some success and then the ego comes out. I look for people who fly under the radar, work hard, and do right by everyone around them.
I have always been dedicated to challenging the status quo and I try to consciously put myself in situations that have helped me grow in my knowledge of the industry. For example in my prior work experience; I was put on a number of committees and would fly out to the manufacturers to see how things work there. These experiences have helped me understand how incentives work, what the manufacturer’s motivations are, and how they allocate inventory. It helped me become better at finding what people want, stocking what people are going to look for, and timing the incentives so people can get the best deal.
How do you get people out to Excelsior Springs? Isn’t it a bit remote?
We are actually only 12 minutes past Liberty, despite how far it may seem. Our customers drive to us because they not only get a better deal, but the buying process is very smooth. And for many people, that is worth a few extra minutes.
But, we also come to you. I’ve sold cars over email, or over text. I can appraise your trade-in over the phone, go over extended service policies with you while you sit on your couch - and I’ll send a link to your phone or tablet and give you a demo from the comfort of your home.
We can also bring your car to you - We call it a “Dining Room Delivery.” Our team can deliver your vehicle to your home or place of work, sign paperwork with you, and drive off in your trade in. Again, we want it to be easy to do business with us.
With all of these changes we have experienced a tremendous amount of growth that our current facility will have difficulty managing in the near future. Exciting things are coming up for us as we are looking at several locations closer to Liberty for a new facility.
Do you have any advice for the neighbors?
Yes! If you have a question about a car, just give me a call. Even if you are interested in one of my competitors vehicles, call me, and I can tell you if it’s a good price or not. Chances are, I’ve probably already seen that vehicle, because I monitor my competitors within 150 miles. I find a lot of specialty cars for friends and family. If you need something interesting, I watch the auctions and can get it for you.
I received a call the other day from a friend in Liberty who wanted a Lamborghini. I found the perfect car he wanted in Fort Lauderdale and received a very competitive shipping quote from a buddy in St. Louis. We ended up shipping it here for about half of what the standard shipping companies were quoting.
Being nice to people is free - that’s my deal.
That’s why Heartland Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram is where “Nice People Buy From Nice People”.