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 someone who spends an average of 135 days outside of the office meeting with clients, John Paul Strong remains the driving force behind his Birmingham-based advertising agency, Strong Automotive Merchandising. Strong began his career as a fresh-faced account executive at Martin Advertising. Learning much, but never satisfied, he convinced his father to partner with him in reopening their own advertising agency in 2004, catering exclusively to the automotive industry. The company started strong but humble. The original roster of 10 employees and eight clients has exploded today, growing to 100 full-time employees and more than 220 automotive dealers. And it hasn’t gone without notice. Along the way, Strong Automotive Merchandising has been recognized as a perennial winner in Birmingham’s Best Places to Work contest and as a Top 20 Agency among Google’s National Ad Partners. Yet, Strong still finds time to share what he’s learned along the way. As an avid writer, he has published two books in the Next Day Traffic series, along with more than 1,000 automotive-focused blog posts. He is also a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, and his success has been recognized in the Birmingham Business Journal’s 2013 “Top 40 Under 40” feature and the 2017 CEO Awards. The foundation for Strong’s career began at the University of Montevallo where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and advanced public speaking. Always staying ahead of the competition, Strong later went on to study in Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program. Amid all of his endeavors, Strong always makes time for what matters most – his family. He is a proud husband to Amy, and father to Lilly Grace, Anne Charlotte, Hudson, and Ford.


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