One of CARMAX’s Many Secrets

CarMax Lot Richmond Virginia

Nobody can argue with the success CARMAX has had in becoming the most well-known franchised used vehicle retailer. It’s sometimes mind-boggling when you read a cross sell report in a market and see how many used cars that CARMAX sells in any given month.

For a lot of dealers, when you are next to or near a CARMAX dealership the opposite of what you would think actually occurs. Many would think that CARMAX may steal their used car market share or that it will sway people from going to their dealership and go to CARMAX to shop instead. But most cases I have ever seen show that having a CARMAX located near your store is actually a great thing for used car sales as more and more people will travel from further out to your general area to shop for a used car. You just have to have enough inventory and the right inventory to get a look from them as a second shot.

While we’re talking about inventory – that takes me to the heart of this blog. I had forgotten until an employee of my company recently went to a CARMAX to have a number put on her trade-in. She went to the nearest location on a Saturday and while they were giving a value of what they would buy her trade for, she walked around the lot and looked at their cars that might interest her.

While she was telling me the following Monday about her experience she mentioned that they let you walk by yourself and all the cars are UNLOCKED!

Wait, hold up, did I hear that right? There are 500 used cars on their lot and they are all UNLOCKED! Yes, that is correct. It’s amazing that a little detail that requires so much daily manpower to unlock every car during business hours so customers can browse freely can make such a big difference in the volume of cars that is sold.

When you think about all you have read and heard about what is important to shoppers today, not just on the lot but online, one of the things you continually hear is that they value their time. CARMAX clearly has an advantage to most retailers when competing for a person’s time when they have their entire inventory unlocked during all business hours for people to see, touch and feel the exact car they are looking to buy.


About the author

John Paul Strong: For 15 years he has worked solely at the dealer marketing level and has mastered all necessary skills to lead the company in the digital, traditional and direct contact forms of media. The last 12 years have been spent strictly working at the Tier 3 level growing the company to 70 employees and over 125 successful dealers nationwide. Strong works hands-on with most clients and has played a leadership role in all dealerships the company handles. His focus is to insure the traffic created is immediate and measured in car sales for clients. Both employees and clients find his attitude and attention to their business infectious and energizing. Strong is a nationally recognized speaker in the automotive industry, has authored two books on creating next day traffic and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s program on Executive Service Firms. He is also a firm believer that “attitude is everything” and that there is only minimal space between being good and being exceptional. Strong earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Montevallo. John Paul Strong is the owner of Strong Automotive Merchandising.


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