Two brilliant 25 year olds that will be future legends in the automobile business

May 22, 2009

Yesterday I had an extraordinary experience. In the morning, I found myself on the phone with a 25 year old named Chris Irwin. Chris runs the family business of Irwin Motors, a Ford and Toyota dealership in central New Hampshire. In the afternoon, I spoke with John Chalfant, another 25 year old that runs Edmark Superstore, his family’s full-line GM store in Boise, Idaho. These two guys are incredible! They are perhaps the two most capable dealership operators that I’ve ever met. Specifically, each of them has taken charge of their used vehicle operations, and in the case of Chris Irwin, his inventory is presently turning 15 and John Chalfant’s 17 times per year. John expects to deliver about 280 used vehicles this month and said that it might break a monthly record for anyone in the state of Idaho.

Both of these guys were discussing with me the finer and subtle points of used car velocity management. Chris and John understand that they can and should expand their used car operations to included non-core product. They understand the principles of stocking used cars based first and foremost on those vehicles with high demand and low supply (low market day’s supply). They also understand that the way you make money in today’s used car market is not by trying to get the last dollar on every car from every customer, but rather to treat their used vehicle inventory as investment capital that must turn faster and faster.

They spoke to me about their management technique for sourcing vehicles and knowing how much to pay based on what they could be sold for in the retail market. Impressively, each of them separately told me how they’re addressing the dealership infrastructure requirements necessary to move hundreds of used vehicles each month both virtually and physically.

I was struck by the fact that these two have almost no traditional used car experience and yet their operations would put to shame most any other. I couldn’t help but come to the conclusion that perhaps their lack of traditional used car experience is a benefit. They’re not bothered at all by the fact that their PVR is lower than it used to be because their total gross is larger than it’s ever been. They pay little attention to the fact that the vehicles that they’re stocking are not necessarily those of their brand or ones that they’ve had any experience with in the past. These two guys are willing to put their faith in data and a formula. In short, these two brilliant 25 year olds represent the purest form of used car velocity management method and execution that I’ve ever seen. I realize that I’m probably going to put a great burden on them, but I would suggest that every dealer in the country take a look at these operations and get to know Chris and John. They will undoubtedly be future legends.