Principle Auto’s Mark Smith found success after abandoning some of his group’s tried-and-true sales strategies. Now he’s looking to take that change even further.
Nine months after cofounding Principle Auto in May 2014, Mark Smith knew something had to change. The sales process employed at his four locations was allowing payment-conscious customers to reach the F&I office before producers discovered they couldn’t afford the vehicle they landed on.
With his staff frustrated by the slowdown those situations caused, Smith, who serves as the dealer group’s president and COO, began researching the new wave of digital tools that promised to put more qualified buyers in the showroom and more vehicles over the curb. That’s when he found VehicleXchange, an auto-loan equity tool and marketing platform developed by Dallas-based Pearl Technology Holdings LLC.
Principle Auto’s leadership team had reservations about making the process alterations the software tool would demand, and he admits he was ready to ditch the tool two months into the experiment. But he refused to let the emotional attachment he and his staffers had for the old process dictate his decision. So he let the data make the decision for him, and the data voted in favor of the new system.
“When we started using it, like most products, we struggled with it. We looked for reasons why it probably wasn’t working, but the data kept saying it was,” Smith says. “The more we used it, the more it worked, and the more cars we sold.”
Back Them In
Principle operates three stores in Texas and one in Tennessee, with a fifth location set to open this month. Smith saw the biggest change at BMW of San Antonio, where sales grew by 36% in the same year the dealership installed VehicleXchange. In the first two months of this year, Smith says, sales grew another 20%.
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F&I and Showroom
Author: Digital Dealer
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