in cars were looking to be outfitted. “The luxury car market was growing at that time and it reflected the growth in the community,” recalls Fitzpatrick. Later, he took advantage of BMW’s efforts to expand in the region when the automaker designated Modesto for a new dealership. “I was awarded the first new BMW dealership in the Western region of the country in 14 years,” he says.
Fitzpatrick is always looking to one-up the competition by offering more stylish cars, making the most of technology, and maximizing customer service as a way to turn those big-spending consumers into repeat customers. All of his dealerships are benefiting from national marketing campaigns by the luxury import automakers. They also rely on solid print advertising, primarily in local newspapers.
“The merchandising and advertising programs that Toyota and Lexus have are very strong and attractive to the consumers,” says Fitzpatrick. He believes his strong Lexus sales performance is linked to a merchandising strategy that involves deciding how to maximize marketing capabilities and helping dealers to best penetrate a market. Jim Colon, vice president of sales and dealer development at Lexus, commends Fitzpatrick for his commitment to the Lexus brand. “Ed works on numerous committees for Lexus that are designed to enhance the Lexus experience for our customers,” says Colon.
All four of Fitzpatrick’s locations have access to a networked dealers management system that is connected via a high-speed T1 line. The system houses all of Fitzpatrick’s accounting, payroll, sales, and customer relations management programs in a central location.
Fitzpatrick confirms that using the Internet and computers to handle customer relations management gives his dealerships a competitive edge. “We’re just becoming more sophisticated and dependent on technology as we manage our businesses,” he says. “My challenge is to make sure that our associates are well trained and can utilize the new technologies that are available to help us sell cars and make our customers happier in the process.”
Coliseum Lexus General Manager Chris Godden, who manages the system, also touts the benefit of technology, adding that about a third of the cars the dealership sells come from customer leads via the Internet. “Most of our customers will contact us through the Internet by visiting our Web page [www.coliseum lexusofoakland.com] or through Lexus.com directly and ultimately to us,” he says.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
The weather forecast called for a mild day with another chance of showers. Residents of Northern California are already weary from the record rainfall this spring. Still, Fitzpatrick, who says it’s important to drive the cars he represents, decides to put the top down on his sporty Lexus SC convertible before heading off to his Coliseum Lexus of Oakland dealership.
Compared to his other three Valley-branded locations, Fitzpatrick regards the Coliseum Lexus of Oakland dealership as his crown jewel, and with good reason. Coliseum Lexus, which sold 901 new cars in 2005, generated $58 million in revenues, reflecting Lexus’ record sales performance that year. Valley BMW generated $36 million, while Valley Lexus and Valley Infiniti grossed $35 million and