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: As owner of Strong Automotive Merchandising, a company that increases traffic up to 1,000% for dealerships, Strong lives by the simple concept that your attitude affects your success. Without a positive mind set he would not have been able to grow the company over the last decade from just 10 to over 80 full-time employees. The rapid growth is thanks to his ability to keep the company on the forefront of technology, market changes and an infectious talent to motivate and keep employees striving to fulfill their potential. His beginnings in direct mail gave him the tools and skills to develop incredibly successful marketing plans. From there he moved on to traditional forms of media and has now mastered the dynamic world of digital and social media advertising. With over 165 dealers to please, Strong takes a hands-on approach and personal attention to detail in all aspects of marketing strategies. His expertise in plan development gives him a keen sense on how to maximize a dealer’s budget and ultimately increase their bottom line. Strong is a passionate speaker in the automotive industry. He has authored two books on creating next day traffic. He graduated from the Executive Education Program at the Harvard Business School. Strong received a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Montevallo. He lives with his wife and three children in Homewood, Alabama.


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