Great car buying experience at Mullinax Ford, I have had many compliments on my 2013 Ford Fusion!

Christina Murphree

Quality Excellent

James Hankins is such a great salesman. He never pressured me to buy a car and I needed that with this being my first new car purchase. The staff was amazing driving to Gulfport, MS to get my car for me. They stayed after hours to ensure my car would be there for me the next morning. Everything was explained to me very thoroughly. Great car buying experience, I have had many compliments on my 2013 Ford Fusion, and have given James card out already!!!

Great buying experience using Mullinax Ford once again!

Don Reese

Quality Excellent

Great buying experience using Mullinax once again. We knew the vehicle we wanted, used our buying plan and got that vehicle at the price as described. We were even able to retain a lower interest rate on financing that I had arrived on property with. Extremely satisfied.

I’ve visited 4 other Ford dealerships in Central Florida and Mullinax has the biggest selection of truck inventory by far.

Kevin Jones
 
Quality Excellent
 
I recently purchased a new boat and needed a truck to pull it. Well, I didn’t need a truck, because my 2011 Grand Cherokee Limited was capable of handling the job – I WANTED a truck!! Everyone knows the F-150 is the hottest truck on the road so I dabbled with the idea and had to convince my wife it was a good decision. After looking at other dealerships in the immediate area, and driving as far as Lakeland to visit another Ford dealership, I decided to check out Mullinax online. I ended up being connected with Scott Mitchem via an online chat and told him what I was interested in doing. I explained that I needed to find something comparable to my Jeep as far as options were concerned – leather, navigation, HID headlights, back up camera, Sirius w/ Travel Link. I also told him I wanted 20″ rims but that wasn’t a deal breaker, it would just be nice. Scott told me he had inventory that would probably suit my needs and I headed out that night to see him. Once I arrived, Scott met me and took me out to stroll through their vast inventory. I have to say, I’ve visited 4 other Ford dealerships in Central Florida and Mullinax has the biggest selection of truck inventory by far. Scott pointed out a few trucks and when I saw the fx2 w/ the blacked out front and HID headlights I was in love! I told Scott I wanted that truck but I wanted it in Sterling Gray. Scott and I went back in to check his computer and he located the truck of my dreams at their New Smyrna lot. He ran numbers for me and had my Grand Cherokee appraised and here comes the best part! They were giving me $2800 more than the previous Ford Dealership was going to give me which was in line with what KBB said my jeep was worth (Lakeland Automall didn’t think I knew what it was worth). It was so nice not to have to haggle anything like you do at other car dealerships. Their upfront pricing is awesome and cheaper than any other lot advertises w/ no dealer fees! Scott gave me the figures I needed and I went home to sleep on it. I never felt any pressure from Scott and the next day I called him and said I wanted to do the deal. I set an appointment with him for the next morning. He told me he would have everything ready to go when I arrived. Upon arrival, my soon to be new truck was sitting there ready to go and let me tell you, she is a real beauty!!! I met Scott and we did the paperwork – there is no finance guy – he is it!! We exchanged keys and he took me out to the truck and gave me another presentation on all the key features of the truck and got me set up with the electronics! Once finished, I was ready to go and I have to say this has been the best car buying experience i’ve encountered. I certainly recommend Mullinax to anyone looking to get into a new car and when you go – ASK FOR SCOTT!! He is a top notch salesman who has been with the company for a long time (over 10 years) and selling FORD vehicles even longer (to the tune of 17 years). I’ve had the truck for almost 3 weeks now and have to say…..I will probably never switch from owning an F-150! Mullinax has earned a customer for life!

There was never any pressure, or gamesmanship at Mullinax Ford and I appreciated that very much.

Habib Jabali
 
Overall Score: 4.8
 
I had left a request on the web for several dealerships in my area for someone to contact me about a 2013 Mustang. Half an hour later I received a call from Bruce Huppert at Mullinax Ford. I was pleasantly suprised as to how quickly I was contacted. He sounded very professional and positive and offered me the opportunity to stop by to see the car. That afternoon, I did stop at Mullinax and Bruce showed me a Mustang in stock that had all the options I was looking for except the color. He assured me he could get me the car I wanted. I was very impressed with Bruce demeanor and overall professional behavior. Although I started the day just browsing, I decided to buy the car from Mullinax later that day. While the final price I was offered was several hundred dollars more than what I had received from other dealerships, I decided to buy the car from Mullinax primarily because of Bruce. He got me the car I wanted later that same day and I purchased it.I picked up the car that evening and the following day discovered it had a bad scratch on the back bumper. I called Bruce and took the car back to Mullinax. He took me next door to Mullinax body shop and introduced me to David Shaw who assured me he will take care of it. I picked up the car two days later and it looked fantastic. There was no sign of the scratch. David’s shop did an incredible job and I was very grateful.Overall, I was very pleased with my buying experience primarily because Bruce made it that much more pleasant. There was never any pressure, or gamesmanship and I appreciated that very much. But what really impressed me futher was that it became apparent to me that other people at Mullinax were also courteous and treated customers with dignity and respect. (Thank you David Shaw). This was definitely not the experience I have had in the past when I dreaded walking into a dealership to buy a car.

I was very impressed with the service at Mullinax Ford and would recommend it to anyone looking for a new vehicle.

Chris Vise
 
Overall Experience: 5
 
They made it very easy for a 19 year old with a new job to get a new car. I was very impressed with the service and would recommend it to anyone looking for a new vehicle. It was a great feeling driving off the lot in my 2013 ford focus

I am going to recommend to everyone who wants to buy a Ford to buy it from Mullinax!

TIm Crutcher|

Quality Excellent|

Mullinax Ford was great! I always hate going to dealerships and just wanting to browse or look at my options because the car salesmen always hound you. So my wife and I shopped online and found the vehicle we wanted at Mullinax so we emailed them. We were contacted within a few hours by a sales representative, Randy, whom was very polite and professional. We wheeled and dealed on the phone and got the best price we could from any dealership in FL. So we arranged a meeting with Randy at Mullinax and drove away in our new Ford with no hassles at all! I am going to recommend to everyone who wants to buy a Ford to buy it from Mullinax and to speak with Randy. Thanks Mullinax Ford for our sweet new ride!!!!

Dealer Magazine- Interview with Larry and Jerry Mullinax of Mullinax Ford

dealerfebcoverPosted on February 4th, 2013 by Dealer in Magazine

Brothers Larry and Jerry Mullinax are the owners of five Ford dealerships in Florida and Alabama. In 2012, these stores sold 10,000 vehicles – 62% of them Ford trucks. Two of these dealerships are among the top 350 in sales volume nationwide.

Brothers and owners Larry and Jerry Mullinax recently discussed their strategy for success with Dealer magazine.

Larry and Jerry, your dealership has an interesting history. Would you share it with our readers?

Larry: Our Dad, Ed Mullinax, started this business in 1970. He bought a bankrupt, boarded-up Ford dealership on a four-acre lot in Amherst, Ohio. His strategy was to have a huge inventory, and do a huge amount of advertising. He did a great job with promotions, and eventually that four-acre lot turned into a 67-acre lot and one of the largest Ford dealers in the nation.

By 1996, my Dad, my brother, our partner, Pat O’Brien and myself had built our company up to five dealerships – four in Ohio and one in South Florida, and we were selling about 30,000 cars a year. When we sold these dealerships to AutoNation, in December, 1996, we were Ford’s largest retailer. We had three stores in the Ford Top 100 nationwide – our store in Margate, FL, was the third largest Ford retailer in the nation and our store in Amherst, OH, was the seventh largest Ford retailer.

Jerry: After we sold our company, we worked for AutoNation for three years. At the end of the day, we liked owning our own business better. It was more fun, and we thought we could make more money too. So, we left AutoNation and started over again from scratch in 2000.

We couldn’t buy or start a business in any of our original locations, because of our non- compete agreement with AutoNation. So, we bought our first store in Central Florida, in Apopka, near Orlando. Two years later, we bought a store in New Smyrna Beach, FL. Then in 2008, when things turned down, we bought stores in Palm Beach, and Kissimmee, FL. The great thing about a recession is it creates opportunity, and we capitalized on that opportunity. In January 2012, we bought the store in Mobile, AL.

We haven’t rebuilt quite as fast as we would have liked. It’s been a little harder than we had thought. Those original stores were in better locations than the ones we have today and the Ford brand had more through-put then, but we’ve worked hard and we are doing well in our new locations. Since our Dad started the business in 1970, the Mullinax family has sold over 450,000 cars and trucks, retail.

We’ve had a great teacher in our Dad – one of the best ever. He’s retired now. Jerry and I are grateful for everything he taught us. He was a great innovator – the first person in the nation, in 1975, to sell one price. He taught us how to sell that way and that’s the way we’ve done it ever since.

When did your Dad start you working at the dealership?

Larry: Our Dad got us started as kids – I was probably in the fourth grade. Lawn maintenance was our first job and then we moved on to working in parts; we sold cars, and cleaned service floors. Both Jerry and I graduated from Northwood University in Midland, MI. I continued to work at the dealership and ultimately, I became general manager of our store in Amherst, OH, and moved on from there.

Jerry: My first job was cleaning the service department floor when I was in the third grade. Larry and I worked together around the dealership. We mowed the big lawn here so many times I said to myself, when I get older, if I make enough money, I will never mow another lawn in my life. I stopped mowing lawns when I was 18. I don’t even mow the lawn at home.

Larry: Our Dad never forced us to choose the car business. It was always our decision and he did a good job of exposing us to work in each of the departments. He made a point of making sure that he wasn’t our manager. Jerry and I will teach our kids the business if they show interest. My son, Brad, is 21 and in college and he’s worked here selling cars. He hasn’t decided whether or not he wants to join us in the business yet.

Jerry: My daughter, Anastasia who is 15, and my son Clay, who is 12, work at the dealership. My son Grant, who is 14, will do website work for us from time to time, and Cole, who is 11, wants to work at the dealership, but he’s not ready.

How do you two work as a team?

Larry: Jerry and I have two very different management styles, but we complement each other very well. I’m more methodical – more on the business end. Jerry is a much better salesman than I am.

Jerry: I run the Apopka store and Larry runs the new Smyrna Beach store and we have three great business partners that run the other three stores. We like it that way because they have their money in the business as well. So they have the same goals for that store as we have. We feel that has been a big factor in our being able to go from two stores in 2008 to five stores today. Scott Nicolas is our partner at the Lake Park, FL, store; Chris Baron is our partner at the Kissimmee, FL, store, and Alvin Davis is our partner in the Mobile, AL, store.

How is all of this structured?

Larry: We sell our partners a percentage of the whole business. Most partners, when they buy in are only buying part of the franchise, and don’t buy into the real estate. But, our partners buy a percentage of the entire business.

We don’t have a full blown management company. Jerry and I are on the phone everyday talking about the overall organization and we’ve got two or three people that are doing things for more than one store. For instance, we have Steve Francis who helps us take care of a lot of operational issues for the group, such as banking, insurance, equipment, and computers. But, other than that, each store pretty much stands alone.

How many vehicles did you sell in 2012 and what’s your forecast for 2013?

Jerry: We sold about 10,000 vehicles in 2012, between the five stores. That’s actually not a lot, by our standards, but we’re trying to move that number this year and going forward.

Being a Ford store, trucks are a high percentage of our business. Right now 62% of our business is new truck sales. In a way, trucks are our signature product.

We park F-150s on gigantic rocks in front of all our dealerships. We started doing that at Apopka, near Disneyworld, where you see those types of displays. We hired an architect and built our rock from concrete. It holds three trucks and it’s really a monument in our town.

As for new car sales, we are really excited about our new car lineup. For starters, this is the best line up of cars we’ve seen from Ford Motor Company ever. Initial sales have been awesome with the Focus, Fusion, Escape and C-Max. We’ve got cars that can dominate. These are going to be big chunks of the market that Ford hasn’t played in before.

How is the used car business for you?

Jerry: Before 2008, we typically sold two new vehicles to one used vehicle. But the recession in 2008 necessitated that we become better used car dealers. Today, people are keeping their cars longer and a lot of the cars that we used to wholesale, we now retail. You don’t get that many 30,000, 40,000 and 50,000 mile trade-ins that we used to get. We retail cars that have 150,000 miles on them now. We sell a lot of cars under $10,000. We sell more used cars than new cars now. And, our used car sales are up 10% this year. I think part of that we can attribute to vAuto. We like what vAuto does for us. They allow us to see what other similar used vehicles are selling for in the market so we can price our vehicles competitively.

We are doing a better job of selling the older cars. We spend money to make them into good vehicles. One of our partners, Chris Baron, goes as far as putting new transmissions in them.

We sell a lot more higher mileage cars, and the other factor is that cars are much better made today. So you can sell a car with 100,000 miles and have confidence that you are selling a good vehicle.

Larry: Another factor is the Ford Certified Program. They’ve made that a whole lot better and we are one of the top Ford Certified dealerships in the country. The improvements Ford has made with that program have had a big effect on our business as well.

What percentage of your business is Internet-based?

Jerry: That is so hard to say. It’s hard to measure what customers are Internet-based or not. A recent customer survey showed that 89% of our customers are on our website before they ever show up at the dealership. I have a philosophy that every customer is an Internet customer. Some start on the Internet, then pick up the phone and call, and then walk in the front door.

You have to have a great process in place for the people who actually submit a lead. There are a lot fewer people that submit documentable leads online than just show up or call you on the phone. Yet, they may have researched you on the Internet first.

What about your third party lead providers?

Jerry: We use Autotrader.com and Cars.com; those are the two big players out there and we are very happy with what they do for us.

How much of your business is repeat business?

Jerry: We have a significant amount of repeat business. We ensure repeat business a little differently than most dealerships. Encouraging repeat business is part of our pay plan that we have standardized in all dealerships. Sales people are paid a $100 bonus for each customer that comes back to buy. We track this monthly in all the stores.

We want our sales people to create a relationship with each customer. We figure when the customer comes back because they have a relationship with that sales person, we save money because we didn’t have to go out and advertise to bring that customer in.

Please tell us more about your tactics for success.

Larry: First, having a big selection is key. We only sell Fords and we do a great job of moving inventory between stores. We can offer customers a choice of 2,000 cars between our five stores. Second, my Dad invented one price, and we now call that Up Front Pricing and we trademarked it. We put our best price right on the windshield. That takes the hassle out of buying cars and gives our customers a very positive experience. Our CSI is great and gets better every year. Third, we have no dealer fees, which are very common in Florida and Alabama. A lot of our competitors charge more than $700 in dealer fees.

Jerry: Our goal is to make it really easy for the customer to buy a vehicle here. We advertise our Up Front Pricing, no dealer fees and a huge selection and that’s what we provide to the customer, an easy, hassle-free buying experience. And great people work for us and serve our customers. Those are the things that make our company successful: a simple way of doing business and great people.

Let’s talk about your advertising strategy. What is the mix: traditional vs. digital?

Jerry: We do a lot with digital to market our brand. But, just as AutoTrader advertises on TV to drive people to their website, so too, we use TV to create our brand with the goal of having the consumer wind up on our website.

Digital is not as expensive as traditional. So, I’d say we spend 60% on traditional and 40% on digital. We don’t do anything in newspaper or radio anymore. We believe people in their cars are on their cell phones, or listening to radios like Sirius satellite radio – not the local radio station. And, we just like TV better.

We also have a newsletter we put out every month to 80,000 customers, outlining our brand and our goals.

We love Ford; it’s part of our brand, and our goal is to be the best Ford retailer in the USA. And, we have a seven-point Mullinax brand.

  • Upfront pricing.
  • We have the friendliest sales and service people.
  • We strive to be different from other dealerships.
  • Our facilities and our vehicles are clean and well      displayed.
  • Everybody Gets Pickles: We are consistent in what we      deliver.
  • We offer the greatest selection of vehicles – with more      than 2000 vehicles in inventory.
  • We participate in our community.

Larry: In regard to community involvement, we’ve done some good things with the Ford Drive One 4 UR School program, where we partner with our local high schools to conduct test-drive fund raising events. For every valid test-drive completed, Ford Motor Company donates $20 to the participating high school, up to $6,000, to support school events and organizations.

Yesterday, we had community events at all five stores. At the Apopka store, we raised $3,200 for the local food bank and filled a pickup truck full of food to deliver to their food pantry. We really want to be active in our community and we think that kind of thing comes back to us.

What is your biggest challenge for 2013?

Larry: We want to get better at everything we do, so there is no single biggest challenge.

We’ve already got great people and we continually train our people to help them get better every day. We have close to 300 employees in the five dealerships. We’re only as good as our people and we rely on our managers to do their part. All our training is done internally.

Fortunately, we also have great people who have been with us for many years, even as far back as our original set of stores. We had people who worked for us in Ohio in the dealerships we sold to AutoNation, who moved to Florida to work for us here when we opened up our own dealerships again. For example, we’ve got Darryl Anderson, our GSM, in New Smyrna Beach who’s been with our company for 30 years, and Scotty Nicolas, our partner, has been with us for 25 years.

Is there any sense of competition among the five dealerships?

Jerry: One of the great things about having five dealerships is we can make comparisons between stores.

Naturally, our partners want to beat the other stores in sales and service, but we’ve kept this sense of competition on a positive note. The good thing about the numbers is we do the accounting the same way in each store, so we are comparing apples to apples. It’s a little bit more accurate than you would be able to get in a 20 group, where the stores may be keeping numbers with different accounting methods.

We have five GSMs, five service managers, five parts managers, and we compare and we share best practices among the stores. These people all work together. Phone calls are made on a regular basis, as far as what’s working here and what’s not working there.

For the fixed operations departments, we definitely dial in on brakes, batteries and tires, and really track that percentage of repair orders at each dealership. How high can we get that number? Having five stores with the same basic setup and the same information from Ford Motor Company is really helpful.

Friendly competition is always good. No question, people do want to beat the other stores.

What about your F&I processes at the five stores?

Larry: We’ve got different processes at different stores. We’re trying to speed them all up. We are trying to make it a friendly, fast process at all stores. We do have menu selling, which most dealers do today. We present all the options to the customer, and our goal is to get them to choose as many options as possible. And we know the faster we can make that process for the customer, the happier and more satisfied the customer is going to be.

Have your stores received any awards for customer satisfaction?

Jerry: All of our stores have won Ford President’s Awards, which are for CSI. In 2012, two of our five stores won the Ford President’s Award. Our Lake Park store has won it four years in a row, including 2012. Our goal for 2013 is to have all five of our stores win the award.

Any plans for expansion of your facilities?

Larry: We are building a brand new $8 million facility in New Smyrna Beach. We’ll be in it by October of 2013. We’re working with Ford to update our image.

Jerry: Larry is also working with the city which has a lot of regulations for new buildings. Ford has a prototype of a building they want us to build and it is somewhat at odds with our town’s very strict regulations. The new Ford image has a lot of metal and hard lines. Our town is looking for New Smyrna Beach charm – old fashioned and beachy. The new Ford look is not beachy. So, we’ll have to work out something that satisfies both the OEM and the town. That’s not easy.

What do you see as the future of the industry?

Jerry: Customers ultimately get what they want and customers are demanding a more transparent, simpler process. Customers’ time is critical. Customers want more speed in the process.

I say to our salespeople: I can go to Wal-Mart and ring up 125 items so much faster than buying one car. Our goal is to speed up the process. Customers don’t want to be here for hours. When the customer is shopping around, they figure that’s their time and they can take as much time as they want, but once they decide upon a vehicle, they want that process to go fast.

So the future I believe is customers doing more shopping online ahead of time and when they get to the dealership, it’s just a matter of solidifying the ideas they had online and making sure the car is what they want and then finalizing the process. So the future is a lot more of the process online and then a faster experience at the dealership.

What advice would you give to a young person buying his or her first dealership?

Jerry: I’d advise them to start off by learning about and becoming very involved in the used car business, because that is where the cash is. It’s still a trade-in business. 70% of the people who come in to buy a car have a car to trade in, and you have to be a good trader. And the second piece of advice is to get involved in your community.

jmullinax@dealer-communications.com

 

The overall buying experience was excellent and I would not hesitate to purchase another vehicle from Mullinax Ford.

Ron Root

Quality Excellent

Having purchased numerous vehicles from Mullinax, I had no doubt that that this buying experience would be the same. Frank (the sales representative) is probably the best I have had the pleasure to work with purchasing my new 2013 Ford Edge SEL. There was no pressure, I was offered the chance for a test drive, all of the features of the vehicle were explained, and the paperwork involved took about half the time it takes at other dealerships. Additionally, I was offered an extremely competitive price for my trade-in and the vehicle purchased was priced below what other dealerships were offering. The overall buying experience was excellent and I would not hesitate to purchase another vehicle from Mullinax.

The whole car buying experience was very fast and stress free at Mullinax Ford.

Jason Panton|

Quality Excellent|

My wife and I walked into Mullinax one afternoon just to look and we saw the up front pricing on the windshield and said this price is lower then anyone wants to even think about doing. We decided to buy a 2013 f250 and eveyone was so nice. The paper work took a lot less then what we expected. The whole car buying experience was very fast and stress free.