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Used Cars Helps Carr Chevrolet Stay Strong

In a tough market, Carr Chevrolet ranks high on the Ward's 500 by employing some novel tactics in its used-car operations.

With 13 Chevrolet dealerships within a 20-minute drive of each other, the Portland, OR, market is highly competitive.

“I know there are other areas that have more dealerships,” says Brad Preble, vice president of the Carr Chevrolet Inc., located in Beaverton, OR. “But we don’t have the population to support that many.”

Preble tells stories about what goes on in the market to members of his 20-Group, a coterie of dealers who share business practices, that have them shaking their heads.

“A lot of cars are advertised for under invoice here,” he says.

Still, Carr Chevrolet is thriving, ranking 55th on this year’s Ward’s Dealer 500 with $184.6 million in total revenue. Carr has been in the Portland market since 1941 and was bought by Wallace Preble and Gene Bradshaw in 1989.

Both owners have two sons in the business. “We are highly nepotistic here,” says Brad Preble, one of the sons. “We all have our responsibilities and stay in our lanes.”

The dealership has grown in part thanks to its used-car operations. Its 4,456 sales leads the Ward’s 500 this year.

Top 25 by Used Units Sold
Dealership Used
1 55 Carr Chevrolet 4,456
2 18 Landmark Chevrolet, Ltd 4,239
3 74 Chapman Chevrolet, LLC 4,154
4 35 Bill Heard Chevrolet, Ltd 4,069
5 103 Towbin Dodge 3,768
6 126 Bell Rd. Automall 3,753
7 5 Galpin Ford 3,738
8 19 Roseville Toyota 3,698
9 1 Longo Toyota 3,655
10 96 C & O Motors Inc. 3,453
11 120 Wilde Toyota 3,444
12 30 Trophy Nissan 3,415
13 223 Bonham C-P-D-J-E-Inc. 3,392
14 101 Maroone Ford Miami 3,391
15 319 Ramey Motors, Inc. 3,389
16 48 Maroone Ford of Margate 3,337
17 27 Norm Reeves Honda Superstore 3,233
18 131 Schaumburg Honda 3,186
19 13 Sam Galloway Ford, Inc. 3,161
20 15 Gaudin Motor Co. 3,151
21 71 Five Star Ford of Texas 3,116
22 97 Joe Myers Toyota 3,111
23 29 Earnhardt Ford Sales Co. 3,086
24 16 Midway Chevrolet 3,010
25 8 #1 Cochran 3,007

“We treat our used-cars as a separate brand,” Preble says. Ten years ago, the dealership developed its own in-house inventory-management software with similar ordering packages based on model and classification. Management is able to keep a tight rein on days supply and inventory turns. As a result, wholesale losses are minimal, if they happen at all.

“It’s something I do every Monday,” Preble says. “ We make decisions on how to classify each of the used vehicles we have taken in.”

Carr also developed its own 12-month/12,000-mile (19,312 km) warranty 120-point certification program, which is stronger and an easier sell than the manufacturers’ program.

Another wrinkle is the one-price selling system owners Preble and Bradshaw created in the 1970s, when they owned an area Ford Motor Co. dealership.

The sales staff is salaried and handles both new and used cars. “It’s really the entire selling and operating system that is in place here,” Preble says. “Our sales staff, while still sales people, sell from a consultative approach. It is one of our selling points – we’ll try to find the car that is right for our customers.”

The dealership is getting ready to launch the one-price system for its new cars this year.

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