Later this month, food trucks will reappear in the parking lots of two Oklahoma car dealerships on Saturdays to feed employees and the public.
After a trial last August to October, Fowler Dodge in Oklahoma City -- which also sells Chrysler, Jeep and Ram -- and Fowler Volkswagen of Norman will offer customers and employees free food from these eateries on wheels.
It's a way to set the dealerships apart from the competition, get people to come to the stores and support the local food trucks, said Jonathan Fowler, vice president of Fowler Holding Co. in Norman, which owns seven dealerships.
"We do get people that show up just to eat food," he admits.
But that doesn't bother Fowler: "Car dealerships can be scary for some people. It breaks down barriers."
Fowler considers it a victory "to get somebody just to come onto the lot and relax and not be bombarded by people trying to sell them something."
Later, when consumers initially drawn by the food trucks may need service or a new car, "they can look at us in a more positive light," said Fowler.
Fowler, 32, oversees the group's marketing, digital and community outreach programs. The group was started in 1973 by Fowler's grandfather Bill Fowler, who bought a Toyota store in Norman. Today, the family also owns a Honda dealership in Norman, Toyota and Chevrolet dealerships in Tulsa, Okla., and a Chevrolet store in Denver. The seven stores sold about 1,200 new cars last year, said Jonathan Fowler.
After college, Fowler joined the family business in 2006 as a financial analyst. In 2010, he became general manager of an open Volkswagen point the family was awarded.
The food truck program started as an alternative way to feed the dealerships' employees on Saturdays. The Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram and Volkswagen dealerships provide lunch for salespeople and managers "because we want them to stay at the stores and sell cars," Fowler said.