Manny has written many printed articles for consumers through the years. Below is one that was recently published that explains the history behind Yellowstone Country Motors of Livingston. To save space on the website we have only included the chapter relating to Yellowstone country.
If you would like the other stories send us an email at email@example.com and we will forward you the whole book in its electronic form. Hope you enjoy.
By Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller .......................................... 13
Returning to Roots Puts
Dealership on Successful
Path for the Future
By Torrey Blackwell ............................................................ 17
A True Entrepreneur:
From Diners to Drivers
By Scott McCormick .......................................................... 29
Customers Are Our
Reason for Doing Business
By Joe Orff ......................................................................... 37
How I Became "The Car
Dealer Next Door"
By R.C. Hill, III .................................................................... 45
A Servant's Heart:
Put Others First, and
the Rest Will Follow
By Clayton Black ................................................................ 53
Success Against the Odds:
"Take Care of the People,
and They'll Take Care of You"
By Lonnie Blackburn .......................................................... 63
Investing in People for
By David Scism .................................................................. 71
Why Choosing the Right
Dealer Will Help You
Drive a Better Car
By Tracy Myers ................................................................... 81
Leaning on the Golden Rule
By Brandon Christensen .................................................... 93
Graduating to Good Credit:
It All Starts with ABC
By Sam Snellenberger Jr..................................................... 101
How I Got Here
(and What's In It For You!)
By Dane Gouge .................................................................. 111
Serving East Texas
and Serving America:
The Family Business
By Kent Abernathy ............................................................. 121
Best Kept Secret"
By Manny Goetz ................................................................. 129
Here to Serve: Never Make
a Customer Half-Happy!
By Scott Lehman ................................................................ 139
Copyright © 2012 CelebrityPress™ LLC
By Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller
If you've picked up this book you may be wondering why anyone would write a book about car dealers. Or, frankly, why anyone would want to read a book about car dealers. We'll get to the second part in just a moment, but first let's tackle who we are and why we would embark on the odd journey of writing a book about innovation in the car business.
We're Jim and Travis, two guys who wrote a best-selling book and started a company that helps people make their businesses and their lives
much better by teaching them how to stand out and make themselves special. We're unconventional guys who do things in unconventional ways. In fact, it's our "buck the-system" approach to life that has allowed us to achieve a high degree of success in business and life in a short amount of time. During our steep and rocky journey to find success we tried many tactics to get attention, make things happen and create
prosperity. On that journey, we failed a lot … and we learned a lot about what it takes to stand out and succeed. We could go on for days about all the lessons we've learned. That topic alone could fill an encyclopedia. But what we want to share with you in this book is the one lesson that has truly had the greatest impact on us and the many business leaders we
have mentored over the years ... and how that simple secret has enormous power to make your life better.
The Most Unobvious Truth
Unconventional and different ideas get noticed and get talked about. Business strategist Seth Godin said it best when he wrote, "Safe is the riskiest place you can be," in his best-selling book Purple Cow.
Our Mission To Find Uncommon Greatness
One of our missions in life is to reveal this secret to as many people as possible. We're always on the hunt for ways our ideas can have the greatest impact. We believe life and business should be ESP-Enjoyable, Simple & Prosperous. The secret of "Same Is Lame" and the results that come from being unique and doing things differently is a quick way to create ESP in your life and business. One question we continually ask others and ourselves is, "Who can benefit most from this message?" One of the answers that came up repeatedly in our discussions was …car dealers.
The car business is an industry of sameness-of lameness. It is an industry plagued by people who do and act the same way everyone else around them acts. It's industry where local dealers are prompted by the upper echelon to be the same, ordinary and average. It's an industry being pushed into commoditization and homogenization, supposedly for its own good.
Our view is that commoditization and homogenization is not good for any industry, or anyone for that matter. Individualization and uniqueness breed innovation, and innovations solve problems for people. We decided recently that taking our message to car dealers could be a huge opportunity for creating change on a massive scale and felt the car business was the perfect place for us to make a major difference in the world. We knew some dealers would embrace our secret, and we knew there must be some dealers out there who were already working against the machine and flourishing by going against the grain and doing things differently. We made it our mission to find them and foster their desire
to stand out, lead the charge of change and be an example others
could follow. So, we set out on a mission to find the most special car dealers in existence. Those unique dealers who broke the rules and busted out of the stereotype. We sought out dealers who didn't have just
customers, but had actual FANS! We wanted to find car dealers who earned the loyalty of their customers and kept their customers for generations. We looked for dealers who were achieving celebrity status in their hometowns, dealers who gave back to their communities, dealers who were making the world a better place, dealers who deserve respect and admiration, dealers who believe there is more to selling cars than advertising fake low prices.
And, boy, did we ever find them! We've sifted through the emotional stories of thousands of car-buying customers and uncovered a handful of true gems in the car business. Dealers where we would send our mothers to buy a car. Now, here in your hands, you're holding a directory of the best car dealers in America. If you're lucky enough to have one of these dealers in your town, you should count your blessings. If not, you should
consider traveling to do business with one of these rare dealers. We discovered that these men and women who are unconventional examples of excellence and innovation in a worn-out, old business are good people just like you and us. They have families; they have good days and bad days; they have faith; they have worries; they have hopes and dreams. And most of all, they have a burning desire to think different, to act different and to truly be different. It's our pleasure to present to you the finest car dealers in America. These dealers are on a mission to turn around the car business, one customer at a time.
Yellowstone Country Motors: "Montana's Best Kept Secret"
By Manny Goetz
Carpenter to Car Dealer
It was January 1 of 1997, and I woke up and told myself it was
time to do something different. I had been a carpenter, builder
and land developer for 20 years, and I was looking for new challenges.
One of the projects I had been involved in was the startup
and development of several Saturn dealerships in Northern Virginia.
I was really intrigued with the one-price selling process
and customer service that Saturn had developed.
I always had dreamed of moving to Montana and living in a log
cabin along the river; however I still needed to make a living. I had
spoken to a friend, and he told me about a dealership that might be
for sale in Montana. So I packed my bag and headed west.
I arrived in Livingston, a small town of 6,000 located near Yellowstone
Park. The dealership was in an old building. I was
looking for a place to raise a family where we could be a part
of "small town America." Livingston had the Yellowstone River
running through it and was surrounded by majestic mountains.
The dealership owners agreed to let me work with them until I
could decide if I wanted to buy the business.
Why the Car Business?
While I was growing up, my family and friends had always
asked me to help them to buy cars; I was never too shy to ask the
tough questions. I always wondered why buying a car had to be
so stressful on the average person. I knew there had to be a better
way to buy a car, but what was it?
I spent months talking to customers about what they liked and
disliked about dealers. It was during these conversations with
customers that I could hear and see the distrust that they had towards
auto dealers. Boy, did I get an ear full. With all this information,
I felt if we listened to customers' needs and treated them
with respect we could sell more cars. After all, the customer is
the most important person in our business. l always tell our staff,
"The customer is the real person who signs your paycheck."
I was invited to a fundraiser in a neighboring town. As I was
making my rounds meeting people, I met a dealer whose family
owned several dealerships. He asked me what I did and I told
him I was looking at buying a dealership in Livingston. He told
me that none of the dealers in Livingston were ever successful.
I told him I thought we could improve the customer service and
create a more affordable pricing structure. He was quick to tell
me that it was not customer service that got people to buy but the
hype about the sale. He said our plan would never work and that
a good dealer had to know how to control the customer. In his
parting shot, he said there was not a lot of money in Livingston
but more money in his town so folks could afford to pay more.
As I headed home, I realized that we would be the underdog
when it came to selling cars. However, I still felt that customers
wanted to be treated with respect. Our goal now was to show we
could compete with the bigger dealers both in price and unlimited
Yellowstone Country Motors: "Montana's Best Kept Secret"
We committed to buy the store and started the process to get approved.
We priced our cars so we could make a fair profit without
the customer having to haggle to get a good deal. We committed
to treat everyone with respect regardless of their income
or negotiating skills. We met with the Chrysler dealer placement
manager, and I told him we were going to take the hassle out
of buying a car and allow customers to have fun in the process.
He told me it would be hard to get accepted into the approval
process with no previous car-selling experience but said they did
like our business plan and attitude.
Our first obstacle was the dealers around us who complained that we should not be approved because we had no prior car expertise. However, to our surprise they approved us and told us some new blood would be welcome to the industry. They liked our ideas; however, they warned us that the other nearby dealers were tough and that it would not be easy to compete with them.
We went to one of the local banks and discussed financing. The bankers told us that if the current owner, who also owned the largest dodge dealership in Montana, could not make the business
(then called "Cranky Ranky") successful that there was no way we could. I told the bank about our plan to make the customer number one. He said they were still not interested. We went back to Chrysler and let them know what we were running into. Chrysler officials said they had told me that it would be tough. With nowhere else to go, I called a lender we had used back east. This lender knew our track record and our strong convictions about customer service and decided they would give us
a shot. We settled the next week. Our first step was changing the dealership name from Cranky Ranky to something new. We decided to get the community involved, so we had a contest with the all the schools to come up with a new name. We would donate money to both the school and student for a scholarship for the winning name. The contest
was a blast and a success. We chose "Yellowstone Country Motors." More than 300 names were submitted. Some favorites were "Get err done Dodge" "Manny Goetz you the car you want" and "Bear it all Dodge." The students and parents really enjoyed helping us pick a name.
Listening to the Customer
We found that listening to the customer and acting on their suggestions
helped us grow very rapidly. The first thing we did was to relocate the customer lounge next to the service and snack area and install a window. This allowed customers to see the work the technicians were doing on their vehicle and discuss repair updates with their service adviser.
We then removed the big signs that said
"No Customers Beyond This Point" in the service area. Our staff welcomed customers into the shop to see the progress of their car's repairs. We find if you tell a customer that they cannot do something or try to hide something, you put doubts into their minds. We want our
customers to know and see everything. We also made it a point not to try to sell customers something they do not want or need. We listen to our customers and try our best to find the perfect vehicle for them. If they are unhappy with the vehicle, they'll be unhappy with us. There are several ways to purchase a vehicle with many different finance and lease programs. We train our team to find the best program for each customer.
We do our best to be honest with the customer. We tell our customers
we are not perfect and if we do something wrong, we apologize and fix it with no argument. We designed a 230-point inspection system on all used cars. Customers buy with the confidence that they will have a very reliable car. With this process, customer complaints are near 0 percent.
The plan paid off. The first month our sales went up. Within one year, the store went from selling 20 vehicles a month to selling 70 vehicles a month. Customers tell us they love the no-pressure atmosphere and that it was fun to buy a car from us. Chrysler has awarded us awards for service, fixing it right the first time and sales over objective along with the five-star dealership awards. AAA has rated us as a top shop. Our sales are made up of 60 percent repeat customers, which is far above the industry average. All this could not be done without a great staff of employees who understand that a customer's happiness is the heartbeat of our company.
Going the Extra Mile
When a customer is stranded and there are no parts available in town to fix a car, we will take parts off another vehicle to get the customer fixed and back on the road. No one prepares for their car to break down. To help the customer get through these unpleasant situations, we provide free loaner and rental cars. In bad weather, our service department
will pick up customers who need help. Heck, I have seen the service guys shovel snow off the driveway and sidewalk to help customers get in and out of their homes. Yellowstone National Park brings in a lot of tourists with broken-down cars and they have a desperate need to get back to their jobs by a certain date. Our service staff will work overtime
and weekends to get these folks back on the road. We do a lot to help our customers. I have personally towed customers in. Delivered food in snow storms. Helped spread ashes of loved ones. Delivered firewood in cold weather. Delivered fuel and gas to empty vehicles, helped change tires, jump-start cars and even taken customers out to the river so they can catch fish. (That one is actually fun.) All in the quest to show the customers we are there for them. We have seen all these deeds rewarded with referrals, great thank-you letters and many vehicle purchases.
Secrets for Finding a Dealer Who Cares About You
Use Common Sense
The first thing we learn in school is you cannot add apples and oranges. The same thing applies when you are buying a new car. Make sure that if you are comparing prices between two vehicles at two different dealerships that you are using the apples-to-apples comparison. Some salesman will describe the vehicle they are trying to sell you as if it has all extra benefits and features, when the features are actually standard.)
The best way to make a true comparison is to get a printout of details about each vehicle, lay them next to each other and compare each line item to the next. If they are exactly the same, then you can make an educated decision. If they are different, you need to adjust the difference
with prices and then make your decision.
Look at Location
Take a close look at where a dealership is located. If it is in a high-rent area and the dealer has a large new building, this usually means it has higher expenses. Common sense says the dealership will have to charge
more to pay for these costs. Some of these dealers might get you in the door with some gimmick, but that is when you have to watch for the hidden fees. Some dealers add additional products to your contract that you do not need or agree to buy. Sometimes they will try to charge you
higher interest rates. They have to make more money somewhere to pay their higher expenses.
Working with a small dealer who has lower expenses should save you money in the long run both on the sale and with future service work.
Individual Dealers vs. Dealer Groups
We have customers tell us that the big stores they go to do not treat them very well. It is pretty normal in business that if the owner is not at
the store that the customer will not get the same service as you would get from an owner who cares and who is watching over the daily activities. Larger dealers have to sell volume, and to do this, they have to get you in and out. At smaller stores, the owner knows the dealership has to take care of you-otherwise you will not return. In most large dealerships, you become a number and not a real person. The myth that large dealerships get volume discounts is not true. I have heard salesman and owners of large dealerships tell customers that because they are large, they get to buy in volume. That is not true. Federal regulations
require the factory to sell all cars to every dealer at the same price. So if you hear this line from a salesman, you know it is not true.
$99 Over Invoice or Similar Sales Attractions
Challenge them! If they advertise invoice, ask to see it. If you think a dealership is making up the invoice have them notarize the invoice and check it out with a reputable dealer. We have seen dealers advertise this way only to have customers bring in their price, which is different
than what the real invoice is. Remember, dealers with high expenses have to make the money somewhere. Every dealer needs to make a profit, but they also need to be trustworthy.
Nobody beats their deal
When a dealer says nobody beats their deal, we say run!
Common sense says if they beat every deal then they would be the only dealer left in town. If you look around, I am sure you see lots of other dealers in business. Dealers have to be truthful in their advertising and not mislead customers with hype. If a dealer advertises a guarantee, ask for it in writing. If they do not have it in writing more than likely they are trying to hide something. Dealers need to be honest in their representations and back up what they say.
Yellowstone Country Motors: "Montana's Best Kept Secret"
Manny started his career in the construction business in Virginia. By age 21, he had already received a general contractor's license and was building homes and commercial projects. In the late 1980s he was asked to be on the Better Business Bureau's arbitration board, which led to a seat on the State Consumer Service board of arbitration. He was able to see firsthand the conflicts between contractors and homeowners. He was asked to be on the board of the National Remodeling Council. He became a consumer advocate helping resolve issues between contractors and homeowners and quickly saw that the number one complaint with the BBB was unethical contractors. With this knowledge, he became one of the founders of "Qualified Contractors USA," a free consumer referral service that helped consumers find
contractors who were licensed, bonded, insured and had no outstanding consumer complaints. As an advocate, he was written up in the Washington Business Journal and Washington Post. He was featured in several TV programs on how to find a qualified contractor. He was a publisher and editor of Your HOME magazine. He was also the executive associate for several
wedding guides and publications. He quickly realized that the auto industry had some of the same problems as the contracting industry had. They were ranked number four with the BBB on
most complaints. After discussing consumer issues with dealers, he found that most were set on doing business the old way. The only way he was going to help change them was to walk in their shoes. Manny was sure there was a way to treat customers with respect and still make a profit and has spent the past 15 years operating and working in a dealership. From that vantage point, he could study the processes that different dealers use on customers and how consumers react. By implementing good processes
it only took 30 days to see increases in sales and customer attitudes in his dealership. With sales increasing, statistics showed 60 percent came from customer referrals. He had dealers and the factory calling him wanting to know what he was doing to increase sales. When the market had its big downturn in 2008, all the other dealerships in the community were closed.
Manny feels that his dealership's customer service, sales and strong ties to the community are what kept them from the same fate. Today, Manny is very optimistic that the auto industry is changing. He has watched many dealers change from the old way to the new way of winning over customers. He attributes this to dealers waking up and seeing that they were losing sales and becoming more open-minded to consumer needs. There also has been a lot of factory pressure plus factory incentives for dealers to be more customer friendly. Yellowstone Country Motors has won
many awards for outstanding customer service. They have been awarded Chrysler's Top Five Star award and AAA top shop award year after year. Manny contributes all his dealership's success to having a professional staff that understands that the customer is more important than the sale.
For more information, call 1-800-497-1001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org