Brattleboro is an old mill town on the Connecticut River about 30 miles north of Massachusetts and about 18 miles west of Keene. Its tall mountains and scenic views beckon tourists. But its main industries are forestry and agriculture. It's a blue-collar town. That means about two-thirds of Rountree Ford's 900 total vehicles sold annually are used vehicles.
Keene, a college town with a population of 35,000, is a more white-collar area. Rountree sells about 600 used cars and 300 new a year at his Keene location.
"We're in an area where buying a new car is a challenge," Rountree says. Still, he insists, "we want to treat used-car customers like new-car customers."
That's why Rountree's service clinics cater to both.
Customers receive an invitation to the 6 p.m. service clinic. Rountree sets up a podium, chairs and a table full of appetizers and other treats in the showroom of each store for the clinic. He estimates about 30 or 40 customers typically attend.
Rountree's service manager opens the clinics with a brief introduction, and he pitches the extended-service warranty again for those who didn't buy it at the time of delivery. Rountree's F&I managers attend. Rountree typically sells five to eight extended warranties that night at a profit margin of about $250, he says. But he says he's not doing it solely for the additional money.
"If you have a warranty to lean on, it's much easier to keep a happy customer," Rountree says.
At the clinics, the customers break into groups. In those groups, service technicians discuss the service needs for specific vehicles.
Customers also can go into the service area, where a car is on a lift and a technician answers questions.