Columbus Motor Co. promises 'best price'

2014-05-11T00:00:00Z 2014-05-11T00:17:45Z Columbus Motor Co. promises 'best price'By Jim Osborn / Columbus Telegram

COLUMBUS — The red, white and blue tag hanging from the rearview mirror of all new and used cars tells Columbus Motor Co.’s simple sales story.

It’s the best price.

There will be no negotiating dance between sales staff and car shoppers at Andy Swanson’s new Chrysler dealership at 2806 23rd St.

No over-valuing a trade-in and puffing up a sticker price to arrive at the bottom-line figure. No more echoes of salesmen saying -- “I’ll have to run that by my sales manager” -- as a shopper tries to whittle an extra $500 off the sale price in a ping-pong of offers and courteroffers.

Best price is a brand Swanson wants shoppers to know when they walk in the showroom.

“The price in the window is truly our best price,” said Swanson, who took over the dealership formerly known as Phil Spady Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep last week. “There’s no hassle and no haggling.”

The new dealership is affiliated with the Grand Forks, North Dakota,-based Rydell Company Inc.

Customers know when they walk through the car lot, that’s the best price 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, Swanson said. There won’t be any weekend extravaganza sales or staffed events with outside companies bringing in a sales crew to move vehicles off the lot.

“This place will be different from now on. We’re laying our cards on the table,” Swanson said. There won’t be four- and five-hour negotiating sessions, buyers can come in and be done in an hour, he said.

“New vehicles will take a little longer (because of the paperwork involved),” Swanson said with a smile, adding that he also plans to shine up a dealership image that has become sullied in recent years.

Columbus Motor finalized the dealership changeover last week and has spent the last few weeks thinning the lot’s new and used car inventory. The dealer has been gradually moving in different cars and trucks and expects to the lot to be fully stocked later this month.

The city dealership plans to maintain an inventory of 80 to 100 new models and 80 to 100 used vehicles when the lot is full, said Swanson, who began operating in northeast Nebraska when he bought Norfolk GM Auto Center in 2007.

The new dealer is looking forward to the arrival of the highly anticipated 2015 Chrysler 200, the automaker’s answer for grabbing a bigger slice of the mid-size family sedan market. The new model will be on the lot late this month.

The new model will compete with the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata for market share.

Meanwhile, Swanson said, the Dodge Ram pickup, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan minivans remain top-sellers.

The 35,000-square-foot building includes a new car showroom, service area, body shop, parts department, customer waiting area and offices. An express oil change and quick-lube service should get going in a few months.

Swanson, who grew up in Laramie, Wyoming, has seen his Norfolk dealership more than quadruple its monthly sales volume since he purchased the business seven years ago. Sales went from 30 to 40 cars a month in 2007 to 170 to 180 vehicles a month today.

Swanson believes that growth in sales volume is a clear indication car buyers don’t want a knockout, drag-out negotiation with the aim of making one side the winner and one side the loser when the transaction is final.

He says most customers prefer avoiding the sales two-step, especially shoppers who don’t have a wealth of knowledge of car values or are unsure of their negotiating skills.

“That sales growth tells me (the best price philosophy) is the way customers want to do it,” Swanson said.

The new dealership will be run on a day-to-day basis by General Manager John Pflepsen, who has moved to Columbus from Norfolk. Swanson plans to be on hand on a nearly daily basis for at least the next year during the transition to the company’s best price doctrine.

The dealership, which held a job fair last week, is immediately adding to its employment ranks.

There are 17 employees right now and that “will double in no time, and hopefully triple (as time goes on),” Swanson said. The Norfolk dealership began with 26 employees seven years ago and now has 87, he said.

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