Though automobile dealer Brandon Steven says it’s a big deal for him to buy Volvo of Wichita, which he shared with Have You Heard? last month, he says it’s an even bigger one for him to buy Joe Self Chevrolet Cadillac.
“I can’t think of a bigger purchase of a franchise,” Steven says of recent Wichita-area dealership sales. “This is huge.”
He closed on the Volvo deal Wednesday morning and the Chevrolet-Cadillac deal over lunch.
“Brandon has certainly got the energy, and he will take it forward,” says Joe Self, who is retiring. “He’ll do well.”
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Steven says his Eddy’s Volvo of Wichita will be more of a niche dealership. The Chevrolet portion of Eddy’s Chevrolet Cadillac will not.
“This is a huge brand,” Steven says.
Self has owned the Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership for 38 years. He sold his BMW dealership to the Wichita Luxury Collection, which is part of the Scholfield Auto Group, late last year.
“We sold over 87,000 vehicles in my tenure,” Self says.
Steven says his deal with Self “has been the longest close of my life.”
The two have been working on it for about a year, but Steven says, “I’ve been trying to convince him to sell to me for years.”
Steven compares buying the Chevrolet dealership to buying his Toyota dealership six years ago.
“I hate to say I was nervous, but I was pretty excited.”
He says he’s feeling the same emotions now.
“It’s really deja vu for me.”
When Steven purchased the Toyota dealership, there were about 60 employees. Today, there are 238.
There are 58 employees at the Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership, and Steven says he’s offered them all jobs and plans to add more.
“In four months … there will be three times the employees here,” he says.
Toyota has 11 different models. Chevrolet has 19.
The Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership at 8801 E. Kellogg has six buildings on a dozen acres, which is two more acres than he has at Eddy’s Toyota.
“We’re going to need space for all the new cars we’re going to get,” Steven says.
He says he’ll have the room and products to grow.
“We are going to go through a major addition and remodel of the whole property,” Steven says. “We’re going to add on to the … Chevrolet-Cadillac building.”
Steven says that in the first month, he plans to triple sales. In the second month, he says he plans to quadruple them. Steven says that’s only the beginning.
He says he’s confident in his ability to jump-start sales because he’s taking his people and processes to the dealerships.
“Our noncommissioned sales process makes it so easy for people to shop,” he says. “We plan on putting that in place immediately. … Kind of like a plug-and-play deal.”
Steven says hallmarks of his business are extreme customer friendliness and a combination building for sales and service.
“That just makes it a lot better experience for the customers,” he says. “We like one big, happy family type deal.”
Though Chevrolet is the bigger dealership of the two and therefore has more potential, Steven says he was particularly attracted to the Cadillac dealership.
“Cadillac is underperforming in this market,” he says.
“Cadillac’s a very up-and-coming car. Their new models are amazing. They have some of the slickest designs on the market right now.”
Steven now has 11 brands – Toyota, Scion, Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Subaru, Volvo, Chevrolet and Cadillac – and will have about 800 employees once the new dealerships are up to speed.
More dealerships mean more selection, he says.
“It gives our customers a lot bigger shopping experience.”
Steven is blunt in his ambition for auto brands.
“I want them all.”
Though Steven is likely to buy more dealerships in the future, he says that’s not what he’s focused on.
“I can’t think about what I don’t have right now,” he says. “I’ve got a lot on my plate.”