dealer Spotlight: How A Floor Plan Grew A Family Dealership

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Chris Tingler and his family

Chris Tingler and his familyIf you’ve ever needed to purchase a vehicle near Covington, Virginia, you’ve probably heard of Chris Tingler and Car Shop Inc. Tingler’s family has owned and operated the independent dealership since 1995. “My father always owned a car lot and I started helping him at a very young age,” says Tingler. “I started out by washing cars and by the time I was about 12 or 13, I was going to the auctions with him. I’ve always loved going to the auctions and being around people so I can hear their stories. I’ve even helped out as a driver before.”

After observing the way his father ran their family’s business, Tingler learned the importance of honesty and its integral role in building a good reputation throughout a community. “We treat our customers fair because without them we wouldn’t be here. They’ve got faith that if they buy a car from us, there will be no hidden costs. They know they’ll be taken care of because if you don’t take care of your customers, they won’t take care of you.”

After years of working under his father, it’s no surprise that Chris was more than prepared to take over the family business after his father’s passing.  Tingler was focused on continuing the legacy his father had created, but also wanted to make some changes. It seems fortuitous that at this time Tingler received a visit from Bruce Paxton who explained how financing with NextGear Capital could help him take his business to the next level. “My dad was old school and always used his own money, I was looking to try something different and that’s when I started floor planning with NextGear Capital.”

Tingler was still a little skeptical at first but that quickly changed when he saw how big of a difference having the extra cash made. “Other than the financing, I didn’t do anything different than what I’ve done for the past 25 years. You always hear negative things about fees and the requirements needed for floor planning and none of it was true. I’ve never had to pay a curtailment because our turn times are so good, and cash sales are up 20% on the month because we have more inventory options for our customers. We can buy whatever we need, when we need it, and we’ve been able to buy nicer vehicles that are newer and have less miles on them.”

Having a good support system behind him also helped him succeed when he started out, “I have all the trust in the world in my NextGear reps Mike Nemeth and Bruce Paxton. They help me anytime I need it, 365 days a year.”

His reps also encouraged him to use tools like vAuto to help run his business, even though technology was something he’d shied away from using in the past. “Tools like vAuto lets us see what the market is doing in our area and what type of inventory is selling and not selling. Having access to this type of information has been a game changer.”Chris Tingler

Chris has become a big fan of Account Portal since it provides him with easy access to view account information, manage his inventory and quickly track down titles for pending sales. “Getting a title from NextGear Capital is so easy and convenient, even if the title is for a vehicle that’s already been taken to an auction. We used to keep titles at our lot but it’s nice knowing that they’re secure in the NextGear vault.”

Car Shop Inc.’s showroom features a small automotive themed museum with collectables, making it a popular spot with Covington locals. So, having a good-looking dealership is also important. “Since NextGear has allowed us to free up more money without negatively affecting our cash flow or impacting the amount of inventory we’re able to carry, we’ve been able to polish our business. Several improvements have been made like resurfacing the lot, purchasing new equipment, making renovations to the dealership and updating our technology. I probably could’ve done these things down the road, but it would’ve taken another 5 to 10 years.”

Despite all these changes, some things never change, including Tingler’s love for buying his vehicles at the auctions, “I very seldom buy my inventory online because I feel more comfortable seeing the vehicles in person. I usually go to the auction every other week, but honestly I would go every week if it didn’t take me away from my home and the office too much.”

Tingler’s experience at the auction has changed though since he started using NextGear. “The checkout process is so much simpler now. When I take the paperwork up to the desk, I tell them to just put it on NextGear. I don’t have to sign anything, and I just hand them the paperwork and leave. I’m also getting more attention at the auctions because even though we’re still a small fish in a big sea, both the auctioneers and sellers know I’m there to buy several vehicles and that’s helped me to build and grow my relationships.”

Now that Tingler’s success is so well known throughout the dealer community, he’s started having other cash only buyers reach out to him for advice. “About a month ago, I had a friend ask me how I liked working with NextGear and having a floor plan. They’re just like us and have been in business for years. I told them to start small and see how much they can handle. The horror stories are all people who don’t know how to manage their money. What works for one dealer, might not work for another and that’s where NextGear Capital can help you figure out what will work best for your business.”

Even when pressed, Tingler can’t think of one negative thing he’s experienced since he started floor planning, “Since I’ve been using NextGear the only regret I have is that we didn’t start using them sooner. We’ve seen a lot of other independent dealerships pop up in our area and within 6 months to a year, they’re gone. We’ve also seen a lot of franchise dealers come and go. We’re still a mom and pop dealership, we don’t have high pressure tactics and we’re still here, outselling everyone else in the area.”

Despite all his success the most important thing for Tingler is to keep his dealership in the family. “I wish years down the road my kids will be able to take over, or at least have the opportunity to do so and it won’t be as hard on them, as it was on my dad and me.” Tingler adds, “The table is set, we’ve done the hard part and the opportunity will be here if they want it.”