Maximum Overdrive

Dorian S. Boyland is taking care of business as he bustles about his 29,000-square-foot Honda dealership. He’s preparing for the grand opening of his Greenfield, Wisconsin-based location, although he opened its doors in July of 2001. This event is more of a reception for African American fraternities, sororities, and alumni of Boyland’s alma mater, the University of Wisconsin.

Boyland, whose dealership is located just outside of Milwaukee at the south end of town, wants to spread the word about his business to Milwaukee’s black community, most of which is located at the north end of the city. He also wants to let city residents know that although his headquarters are located in Gresham, Oregon, relocating to Milwaukee to run the Honda dealership was a sort of homecoming.

Boyland, 48, is excited about the festivities, but he intends to get a return on this investment. Make no mistake about it, he is meticulous about how he spends money, keeping advertising less than 10% of gross profits. And Boyland doesn’t pay salaries to his sales team. No more than 10% of gross profits in commissions are paid to managers, and no more than 15% of gross profits in commissions is awarded to sales managers. When allocating expenses, Boyland commits 35% to new car sales, 30% to used cars sales, 25% to service, and 10% to parts.

The auto dealer operates with one goal in mind: net a 3% to 3.5% profit of total sales from all his locations. It’s a goal that has made Boyland Auto Group a profitable seven-dealership empire. In addition to the Wisconsin dealership, Boyland owns Astoria Ford, Astoria Hyundai, and Gresham Dodge — all located in Oregon — and All Star Ford and All Star Toyota in Washington state. He’s also planning to break ground in Florida for Mercedes-Benz of Orlando.

In three years, Boyland Auto Group has zoomed from the No. 30 spot on the BE AUTO DEALER 100 list to No. 6. Boyland Auto realized a 3.6% net profit on $156 million in gross sales in 2000. It posted 2001 gross sales of $169.1 million at all its franchises. That figure is based on 8,000 total units sold — new and used cars and trucks. In 2002, the dealerships generated $204.8 million in gross sales, based on 9,300 total units sold. Net profit was 3.4% and 2.8%, respectively. And while other dealers rely heavily on deep-discounted fleet sales to boost revenues, Boyland Auto has yet to resort to this strategy. And Boyland says he never will.

“I never ask how many cars we sold,” says Boyland. “I ask my sales managers how much profit did we make. I operate on the premise that if I sell a car for $20,000, I know that 3% (or $600) of that amount is going to go to my bottom line. Now, how I get that 3% is how we operate the store — from the bottom up.”

Boyland’s intrepid approach, combined with his recent entry into the high-end luxury car market, has earned him the coveted distinction of