Frederick Chevrolet has embarked on a somewhat bold and ambitious move to turn the recently vacated property at 1509 Quentin Road—right next to the current home of Frederick Chevrolet—into an oversized lot that will create the capacity to feature nearly 400 pre-owned vehicles.
The building there, which recently housed the Bennett Toyota dealership, will be turned into a processing center.
The goal? To simplify car purchasing in the Lebanon area. If successful, the plan will produce more profits and save consumers money.
But to execute the plan, Frederick needs room for its inventory.
“It’s a very standard process, if someone has done the research,” said general manager Rob Giroux of Frederick’s current used car buying experience. “There’s no negotiating. We can get you in and out in an hour. There’s no haggling, no back and forth. It’s simple. We decided a long time ago to make the process more simple.
“Every used car is a little different,” added Giroux. “But I don’t want to play any games. I think eventually, more dealerships are going to have to change their mentality.”
In the middle of September, the lot and building adjoining the new Frederick Chevrolet, directly south of the long-time Lebanon dealership, became vacant when Bennett Toyota moved to its new location on West Cumberland Street. Bennett Toyota had occupied the building and car lot for about two years, after taking over for Diamond Toyota.
The former ownership of Frederick Chevrolet began leasing the property to Diamond Toyota in 2014. Giroux said the hope is that the new used-car business will be up and running in the next few weeks.
“There aren’t a ton of dealerships out there who have a large inventory of used cars,” said Giroux. “Our business model is different, it’s based on value and not gross net. We’ll have 400 used cars on the premises, everything from a Ferrari to a Ford Focus.
“Obviously, there’s a little risk involved,” Giroux added. “We spend a lot less money on advertising. You’re relying on an educated buyer to do the research, and word of mouth. We sell vehicles all over the Northeast (United States), and pricing is the driver.”
The current remodeling being performed inside the former Bennett Toyota building is just about finished. But to completely rebrand the new enterprise, the ‘Toyota’ sign must be taken down.
“The inside of the building is being renovated now,” said Giroux, a 44-year-old resident of Mohnton. “But with the logistics behind this much inventory, the system has to be fine-tuned. The Toyota sign is still on the building. We’re waiting on Toyota to take it down. We don’t want that sign on the building. It confuses people. Hopefully it’ll be done in the next couple of weeks.
“We’re getting ready to run a lot of vehicles through that building,” continued Giroux. “There’s a lot of work to it, and there remains a lot of work to do. Logistically, it’s a ton of work. Everybody is working off selling 16 to 20 cars a day. But it’s a chain reaction.”
In June of 2019, not long after Bennett Toyota had moved into the building at 1509 Quentin Road, local businessman and Afghanistan war veteran Jeff Ferris purchased the property, the Frederick Chevrolet dealership, and Frederick Pre-Owneds in Lancaster and Hershey from Fred Laurenzo. Laurenzo started the Frederick family of dealerships in 1984, and the business on Route 72 South is one of the best-known and longest running vehicle dealerships in Lebanon County.
“Jeff (Ferris) has lived in Lebanon all of his life,” said Giroux. “He’s been a businessman for quite awhile, but he hasn’t been in the car business all that long. He’s committed to the area.”
Giroux said that Ferris’ business model was different than Laurenzo’s.
“I think the biggest thing to know is that it’s no longer the old Frederick,” Giroux continued. “Just give us a shot. Do your research. It’s all about selection. How many places can you go to look at 400 cars? It’s just easy to do business here.”
For Griroux and the new Frederick, the timing of this new venture will be key. The pandemic continues to impact the economy, and internet car buying services are continuing to grow. Nonetheless Giroux is committed to the process.
“Inventory across the board is limited, and cars are certainly not an exception,” said Giroux. “With COVID-19, everything was shut down. How’s the market today? The market is suffering from inventory supply. The inventory is just not there. I think it’ll probably relax after this spring. We had some really good months when the state opened up. People still want to go out to a dealer. You want to be able to drive it before you buy it.
“Regardless of your party preference, I have to get through this election,” added Giroux. “But I can tell you I don’t foresee my system changing at all. You can’t do this halfway. When I say I don’t negotiate, I don’t negotiate. I wouldn’t expect you to buy a car from me if it wasn’t a great deal. If you’re really good at it, you’re probably going to come here first.”
Since the onset of the coronavirus crisis in March, many consumers have been staying home more and driving their vehicles less. That fact has certainly had impact on the simple laws of supply and demand, especially in areas where car ownership was already at relatively high levels.
“The auto industry changes on a frequent basis, and everything affects the auto industry,” said Giroux. “We’ve found by becoming more streamlined and efficient, you can sell cars for hundreds of dollars over invoice. It’s all about ‘turns’.
“For us, it’s about turning the product, and giving consumers an easy process,” Giroux added.
“My deal will be one of the best deals that you’re going to find. My overall goal is to sell a thousand cars a month, between here and Lancaster. As consumers figure it out, it’s just going to get bigger and bigger. It’s a proven process.”
The power of combining volume and value.
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