"We pinch ourselves monthly." Year in and year out, it seems a fitting activity for all Lexus dealers, including Jordan Case, who since December 2002 has served as chairman of the Lexus dealer council.
Case's tenure is coming to an end, but not because of any controversy. He says dealer meetings are quite serene. This is how he puts it: "We do not have a lot of concerns. We recognize where we are and continuously know what we have to do to remain No. 1."
Not that Lexus dealers don't know how to be heavy hitters. Case is a native Texan and a former football star, first for his alma mater, North Texas State University in Denton, and then for the Canadian Football League's Ottawa Rough Riders; he played until a spinal injury sidelined him at age 26.
A buddy suggested he try selling cars at Carl Sewell Cadillac in Dallas. In 1991, Case joined Park Place Lexus just north of the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport in Grapevine. There he held the positions of pre-owned manager, new-car manager and then general manager. In 1998, he became the dealership's president and operating partner. He now has a second point in Plano, Texas.
Case spoke with Special Correspondent Karen Passino.
How would you sum up the past year for Lexus dealers?
Incredible. Just look at the NADA Dealer Attitude Survey each year, and you know where the dealers' attitude is. I believe that the entire Lexus dealer body is fully aware of how blessed they are - not only to have the finest product in our market but to have the type of relationship/partnership with the factory.
We pinch ourselves monthly.
Are you aware of plans to add Lexus points in 2004?
Lexus is always studying the market and will only place points where they deem necessary. They are not interested in flooding the markets with Lexus points.
What is the hot Lexus product?
This past year it has been the GX 470 and the redesigned RX 330. GX sales were up (about) 72 percent over the previous December, and the RX was up (about) 26.5 percent over '02. The LX 470 and the LS 430 also came in with strong December numbers. Lexus does a wonderful job of responding to customer demand and supply.
What new products are dealers looking forward to?
Well, the first model coming to us this year will be the new RX 400h hybrid. We already have a sold list generated on it. There is great anticipation for this product.
Right behind it is our new GS, which was introduced at the Detroit auto show. Its design is a stepping out for Lexus, and (we think it) will be greatly received by the public. It will not be tagged with any "boring" design. It's awesome.
We are still waiting for the IS coupe and convertible, which we think will hold its own in its market segment. And there has been a lot of request by the dealer body for a longer wheelbase "flagship" LS. Whatever Lexus sends our way, you can bet it will be first-class.
What are the dealer council's top three concerns for 2004?
You know that's what's kind of funny when we have our meetings. We do not have a lot of concerns. We recognize where we are and continuously know what we have to do to remain No. 1. So I guess I would have to say that we want to make sure we have a consistent and steady flow of new products evenly spaced. We know that whatever CSI issues there might be at times that Lexus will do whatever it can to make it right. As dealers, it is our responsibility to deliver the same service to our clients that Lexus delivers to us.