He has been a 'Force' in auto sales in the greater Nashville market for 25 years, and dealer Gary Force feels that carries a positive connotation with consumers.
'We have an excellent reputation in both cities (Nashville and Bowling Green),' he says. 'The Gary Force name stands for stability. People know I will be here to take care of them.'
Force has been a Honda dealer since 1976, a Mazda dealer since 1979, a Toyota dealer since 1984, and an Acura dealer since 1986. In 1999 he opened a separate dealership for used Acuras. All dealerships carry the Gary Force name.
On the airwaves
Consumers in his area are accustomed to seeing Force in his TV spots and hearing him in his radio ads. He writes and delivers all his sales messages, most of which are related to leasing new vehicles. He uses an upscale approach that stresses quality and value, 'never desperation.'
The spots generally are produced by the stations, although he sometimes uses an outside video producer, along with factory footage of the vehicles being promoted.
His image is derived not only from his advertising messages, but also from his consistent involvement in the community. The result is enhanced personal credibility with his upper-middle-class clientele, a key factor that helps them decide they should buy or lease a car from Gary Force, the individual.
Searching for additional marketing avenues, Force jumped onto the Internet about two years ago, but he isn't impressed by what he's seen.
He has a separate home page for each make of vehicle he carries. Each site includes used vehicles and factory-subsidized lease programs.
Force has designed his marketing strategy around creating trust among consumers, so his reputation is of the utmost importance.
He has tried customer surveys in order to find out why people buy from him, but he hasn't found them helpful. 'Often, people simply don't know,' he says. 'People have told me they came in because of a TV ad when in fact no TV ad had run for a year or more.
'If we just take care of everyone who comes in and make them happy, we probably don't need to worry about customer surveys.'
Stability also is a characteristic of Force's staff. He notes that in Nashville, the first three people he hired are still with him. The total staff among all the dealerships combined now numbers 160.
'They know that when they come to work for a Gary Force dealership, they'll receive fair wages and probably more benefits than at a competitor,' Force says. He points out that although people come and go with great regularity in the industry as a whole, he has had extremely low turnover.
To Force, the dealer brand image based on his name is an important part of his success - but not as important as the names of the cars he carries.
'In my opinion, the vehicle brands are extremely important,' says Force, 'and that's especially true with Honda and Toyota. The factories do a superb job with brand image, and it help us get through the highs and lows with more consistency.'