With Infiniti sales up a resounding 23.2 percent in 2002, increased profitability is now the big issue for dealers, says John Capps, the new chairman of the Infiniti Dealer Advisory Board.
If Infiniti can keep providing hot new product - and it looks like it can, with the just-arrived FX45 and a full-sized sport-utility due late this year - dealers will "see their volume increase and their profit per car increase, and as they do that, they will see their fixed operations improve also," the St. Louis dealer said.
Capps, who was one of Infiniti's launch dealers in 1989, definitely knows the luxury market. His Infiniti store, Plaza Infiniti of St. Louis, is one of eight luxury-vehicle dealerships (Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, BMW, Cadillac, Porsche, Audi, Land Rover and Infiniti) on one campus under the banner of Plaza Motor Co. In 1997, Capps' title changed from owner to president and CEO when he sold a majority interest in his operation to what is now Asbury Automotive Group of Stamford, Conn., the fifth largest dealership group in the country based on 2001 new-vehicle retail sales.
Even though Capps' father was the distributor for Volkswagen in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Nebraska, a career in the auto industry
wasn't a foregone conclusion for John Capps.
"I graduated from college and took a summer job selling cars while I was waiting to attend law school," he said. "I made so much money selling cars at the age of 22 that I somehow neglected to make it to register for law school."
Capps talked with Special Correspondent Karen Passino about the success Infiniti retailers' have seen and the challenges they face.