Smoke and side mirrors: How the power of a bbq spurred a small town car dealer to the top


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Landers Jeep became one of the largest Chrysler Jeep dealers by giving the little extras

#347. Submitted by Marty Desmond on the blog ‘The Experience Factor’ from a post called, “What’s Your Purple Goldfish?”

Landers Chrysler Jeep

“In 1994, my ex-wife and I read an article about Steve Landers, owner of Landers Chrysler Jeep in Benton, Arkansas. Despite being located in a suburb of Little Rock, a small city, his dealership came within a couple cars from being the #1 Chrysler dealer in terms of # vehicles sold. In the article was a story about how a teacher once told him that he would not amount to anything. We were impressed with his story and decided to buy a car from him.

After we closed the deal, Steve gave us a package that included an invitation to a barbecue two weeks later. At that barbecue, we discovered why he sold so many cars.

The shop was immaculate, with brand new cars located in all of the stalls. As we were eating, one of the employees passed out gift bags which included a mug. Then, Steve got up and thanked everyone for our business. He said that, because he sold so many cars from around the state, some other dealerships did not like him. He offered to, if we ran into problems anywhere in the state, come and pick us and our vehicle up and bring us back. The final extra was to point out that there was one of each vehicle they sold in a service stall. With each vehicle was a mechanic who was ready to demonstrate how to maintain the vehicle, change tires, check fluids, etc.

His business was booming from word of mouth advertising. There was also a coffee mug from the gift bags which I used for 12 years. For 16 years, I’ve been telling that story. The barbecue was very cost effective advertising.”

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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