Vickar Community Chev bills itself the dealership "where customers send their friends." And those "friends" are supporting the Regent Avenue dealership in increasing numbers -- so much so that Vickar Chev sold more new vehicles in 2012 than any other GM dealer in Canada.
"This was the first time ever that a Manitoba dealer was the top-selling (GM) dealer in Canada," said Vickar Chev general manager Sam Vickar, noting
the dealership sold 1,400 new vehicles and about 1,000 pre-owned to set a Vickar Chev sales record.
Vickar attributes the dealership's success -- "the Vickar difference" -- to a combination of community involvement and strong customer service.
"We consider the moment when the customer picks up his vehicle as just the first part of the sale," Vickar said. "We keep in contact with all of our customers. It's our after-sales service that keeps our customers coming back.
"Customers feel at home here. They get to know our staff, three-quarters of whom have been with us for eight years or more."
Then there's the Vickar family's emphasis on community.
"For us, Vickar Community Chev is more than just our name," Vickar said. "At least once or twice a week, we and our staff are involved in supporting a community event. We rarely say no. We recognize the importance of giving back to the community."
Vickar added that having a great line of General Motors products also helps. "General Motors products are as good or better than anyone else's." He noted that the completely redesigned 2014 Silverado is expected to arrive in the spring.
"The Silverado is the best truck on the market," he said. "We're very excited about it. It's a major seller for us."
Vickar Community Chev was founded 45 years ago by Ed Vickar. Larry Vickar, Ed's nephew and Sam's father, has been the dealer principal since 1994. The dealership employs 160, including 18 sales reps, and is looking to increase the size of the sales team."
Birchwood BMW top-selling luxury dealer in Manitoba in 2012
Congratulations to Birchwood BMW, which was the top-selling luxury auto store in Manitoba last year. "Our sales were up by 30 per cent last year over 2011," said general manager Ena Warkentin.
Murray Chev looking to university to recruit new sales reps
Murray Chev in Winnipeg is looking to higher-education institutions to recruit new sales reps and future management team members. To that end, Amber Waller, Murray Chev's director of marketing, advertising and e-commerce, used car sales manager Daniel Holtmann and some younger Murray sales reps manned a booth at a day-long careers fair at the University of Manitoba on Jan. 16l
"The event was packed from open to close allowing us to get in front of hundreds of students, faculty and other participating businesses presenting the Murray dealership and brand as a great company to work for and do business with," Waller said. "We met with students with many different faculties and described various career options within our dealership's different departments."
"We wanted to get across to explain to interested students how our particular dealerships (Murray Chev and Murray Hyundai), how sales reps earn income, the kind of training we provide, our pension plan and how our career paths work."
"Staffing is always challenging," added Murray Chev Winnipeg president Dan Murray. "While we have very little turnover among the top ranks of our sales team, there's always some movement among newer team members.
"Through our secondary-school initiative, we're trying to attract the right people to our sales team. We want to encourage bright, energetic students who are still considering their career options to consider a career in the auto industry, including the opportunity to become a partner within the Murray Auto Group. We hope if we can give students the whole picture, we can get some of them excited about a career in auto sales."
The Murray Auto Group currently includes 30 dealerships across Canada and, Murray points out that Rob Taylor in Abbotsford and Cedric Gagne in White Rock are examples of university graduates who worked their way up through Murray Auto Group ranks to become managing partners. And Holtmann, a Red River College graduate, has worked for Murray Chev for 10 years in sales, e-commerce and the business office in addition to being used car manager.
Murray said his inspiration for the post-secondary school initiative came from Enterprise Rent-A-Car's successful university recruiting program.
Murray Chev currently has 14 sales reps on staff, while Murray Hyundai nearby has another seven.
"The career fair was a big success and you can count on Murray's be a staple at many of these of events," Waller said, noting the next one is the Red River College Careers Fair in early March.