CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The industry is closely watching Sonic Automotive Inc. as it seeks to reinvent auto retailing. And some other dealership groups want to tap into what Sonic is doing.
"It's very brave," Dave Zuchowski, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said of the One Sonic-One Experience initiative. "I give them a lot of credit."
Town and Country Toyota here, where Sonic kicked off the effort in July, has been crawling with mystery shoppers, said Jeff Dyke, Sonic executive vice president of operations.
Although Dyke can't prove that shoppers aren't genuine, he is convinced that some show up with ulterior motives. "One-hundred percent, they're here, for sure," he said. He suspects mystery shoppers when customers are determined to negotiate in spite of the store's new one-price selling policy.
Special visitors are calling and stopping by as well. Most days since the beginning of September, Dyke said, the store has hosted guests including automakers, Wall Street analysts, media and other dealers.
Some dealership groups have asked whether they can lease Sonic's in-house software or have the retailer's centralized trade office appraise their cars remotely.