Congratulations on your success

January 6, 2009

Here’s an example of how some guys know how to do it and some don’t.  Congratulations to Jeff Green and Bill Pearson for turning their new car stores into used car superstores.

By By Steve Tarter of the Journal Star Posted Jan 04, 2009 @ 10:32 PM

PEORIA – Given recent headlines about layoffs and bailouts for the auto industry, you’d assume activity at local car lots would make the Maytag repairman look like a party animal.

But not all car dealers are seeing the effects of the business downturn. Used cars continue to sell, say some dealers.

“Between Finish Line Ford and Green Chevrolet, we’re now selling 400 used cars a month, compared to an average of 270 cars a month a year ago,” said Jeff Green, owner of the two Peoria dealerships.

Green credited a pricing policy for the business boom. “If you check our prices against Auto Trader (a car-selling Web site), you’ll see that we’re about $2,000 less than the average price,” he said.

Despite the much-publicized problems of General Motors, Green remains optimistic about the company. Even the Hummer, GM’s much-maligned heavy-duty vehicle, is selling, he said.

“It’s not all bad news. We’ll sell 35 new and used Hummers this month alone,” said Green, who expects GM to eventually spin off the brand.

“I look for GM to sell the (Hummer) franchise to a company outside the United States. There is some value there,” he said. If GM does divest itself of the Hummer, that would have an impact on Green’s operation. “We put $3 million into a state-of-the-art (Hummer) facility and track here in Peoria. It would be an expense,” said Green.

Other used-car lots in the area report that low-cost cars are selling.

At Cady’s Cars on Galena Road in Peoria Heights, where emphasis is on cars priced less than $5,000, “We’ve sold more cars in the last two months than the previous six months,” said sales manager Craig Smithe.

At present, only a dozen cars occupy the Cady lot that normally holds 20 vehicles, he said. “It’s hard to find cars at the price we look for,” said Smithe.

At Marigold Motors in Pekin, “We’re clicking along okay but not setting any records,” said salesman Josh Ramsey. “About half of our business comes from referrals from family and friends of past customers.”

The average sale price of a car on the Marigold lot is about $5,000, said Ramsey, adding that Marigold is now selling more pickup trucks than cars.

Joe Bolek, sales manager at Sud’s Volkswagen-Audi on Allen Road, said late-model used cars have continued to sell at his company. “People know that it’s a high-quality automobile,” he said of the German imports.

But not everybody is having luck with high-end vehicles.

Morton used-car dealer Chris Clark can’t understand why nobody has shown any interest in the two 2008 Grand Prix models on his Chris Clark Cars lot that sell for $12,999.

“These are $25,000 cars still under factory warranty and no one’s even looked at them,” said Clark, who called the past two months the worst he’s seen in 20 years of selling cars. “I’m not getting any e-mails and nobody’s walking in the door.”

Clark, who has always specialized in late-model used cars, said gas prices dropped right after he acquired a number of low-mileage economy cars like Chevy Cobalt and Ford Focus. “Now no one’s looking at them, either,” he said.

What mystifies Clark is the general absence of interest in vehicles that always stirred customers before. “I’ve got a five-speed yellow Mustang GT that’s pretty rare and it just sits there,” he said.

Steve Tarter can be reached at 686-3260 or [email protected].