Preston Hood Chevrolet Inc. general manager Taylor Hood is taking GM’s “May the Best Car Win” slogan to heart. Hood has spent nearly $200,000 of his own money to purchase 10 vehicles from rival automakers for his Fort Walton Beach, Florida dealership. Hood said he challenges potential buyers to take comparison drives in the Chevy vehicles he sells and competitive models from Dodge, Ford, Honda and Toyota.
In addition to in-person comparisons, Hood has created a Web site, www.daretocomparechevy.com, where visitors can get information about how his cars and trucks compare to the competition.
Last March GM launched its nationwide “May the Best Car Win” campaign and said that it would hold special events where consumers could test drive its vehicles against the competition. Since then, GM has encouraged dealers to purchase models from other automakers to compare with its vehicles, but has provided them with no funding.
Hood said, “It’s so tough to change people’s perception when Chevrolet spent so many years delivering average cars — Luminas, Corsicas, Berettas. Now, all of our vehicles are better. Ten years ago, I couldn’t have done this except with Silverado and Tahoe.”
Hood says his sales have increased substantially since beginning the comparison campaign last April. He said he’s sold 50 more vehicles during the last three months than in the same three-month period last year and about 50 more than were sold in the three months prior to the campaign’s launch.
Hood said his customers sit in, look at or test drive competitor models more than 100 times per month. He said having models from rival automakers on hand shows his confidence in the Chevrolet brand and goes a long way toward making the sale.
Hood said he first tried the competitive test drive campaign one Saturday in late March, using rented competitor’s cars. The event drew about 200 shoppers compared with the 25 his dealership typically saw on any given Saturday. The increased foot traffic told Hood he was onto something big. “We knew the promotion was a success,” he said.
Following his initial success, Hood went on a shopping spree of his own. He purchased a Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra for use in comparison test drives.
In addition to boosting his new car sales, Hood says the campaign has also been a boon for his used car department. Prior to launching the campaign, Hood had virtually no import models in his used car inventory because most foreign trade-ins were older models that he sold to wholesalers.
Today newer-model imports including Camrys, Pilots and Accords, make up about one third of his used car inventory.
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