dealer Spotlight: How A Thesis Paper Made A Savvy Dealer

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Gabi Furdyna is anything but your typical independent dealer. “I’m originally from Wroclaw, Poland. I used to be a professional tennis player and I came to the United States after I received an athletic scholarship from the University of Maryland. After I received my bachelor’s degree, I received a full academic scholarship to get my master’s degree. When I needed to purchase my first car, I met my now ex-husband who owned the dealership I went to. He had about 20 to 30 vehicles in inventory, after we had been dating for awhile, I started to see ways he could make improvements to his dealership. I mentioned this to one of my professors and he encouraged me to build my master’s thesis on improving the performance of a car dealership and that’s how I got my start in the automotive industry.”

Furdyna says her thesis proved to be valuable in expanding the dealership. “As soon as we implemented the recommendations I made, we doubled our volume which was incredible because that was back in 2008 during the Great Recession. We then opened a second location in Ellicott City, Maryland and I started running that location by myself. I quickly started selling an average of 100 cars a month. Unfortunately, we were renting that property and the landlord unexpectedly gave us only 90 days to vacate the property. I was also pregnant with my first child at this time and I wanted to find a property that was closer to home so it would be easier to care for my child. We eventually found a dealership that fit the bill and was also in a busy location near a mall, but we had to rent again, and I really wanted to find a dealership we could own so we wouldn’t be in the same situation again. I saw a story on news about how the city of Waldorf, Maryland was the fastest growing area for car dealerships in the country, so I drove up there right away and found a dealership that was for sale with 20 acres. So, we opened our third dealership and that’s the location I operate out of right now.”

After Furdyna separated from her husband, despite having several years’ experience running dealerships, she was treated like a new dealer whenever she applied for a loan because the previous dealerships had been in her husband’s name. “When I separated from my husband and reached out to lenders that I had worked with for years, I kept running into dead ends when trying to secure financing. As part of our divorce settlement, I had to give my ex-husband all of the vehicles I had at the Waldorf dealership. I then started purchasing some inventory using my own capital. I have 12 employees and they’re all wonderful and stuck by me, but I was also paying their wages out of my own pocket too.”

It was at this point when she knew that it was time to look for other financing options. “I decided to reach out to NextGear Capital last October. I spoke to Samantha Houston and she helped me immediately apply for financing and I was approved for a $900,000 line of credit in just a few days. I was so grateful and used the entire line in less than a week. I then spoke to my Portfolio Manager, Bruce Paxton, and he asked me to submit some more paperwork so he could do a deep dive into my financials. After a little more time, I was approved for a $2 million line of credit. Since receiving that increase, I’ve been able to floor over 200 units with an average turn time of about 45 days. Whenever I talk to Bruce, I always tell him that I’m ready to take on more inventory because we’re booming.”

Gabi Furdyna
Gabi Furdyna

Furdyna said that another reason she likes NextGear Capital is because she gets so much more with her floor plan than just funding. “I use Account Portal every day and love it. The audit process is so much easier than what I experienced with a different finance company. I just take a picture on my phone and submit it in the portal. It also gives me a complete overview of how many cars I have and how many I’ve paid off and all I have to do to make a payment is click on a button no matter where I’m at. It’s very intuitive and easy to use.”

She’s also a fan of some other Cox Automotive products. “I get most of my inventory from Manheim. They do a good job of giving a thorough overview of their vehicles in a virtual environment, so I feel comfortable buying inventory online. I use Dealertrack DMS to help streamline all of our accounting and I’m also looking into using Dealertrack Compliance to help protect the dealership against identify theft. That’s one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced during the pandemic since so much paperwork is submitted electronically and we have to make sure we’re extra cautious to protect the dealership from fraud.”

Despite being prosperous during COVID, Furdyna says that she’s had to make some adjustments. “Our customers are looking to spend less money and are more concerned about their payments. My ex-husband and I used to specialize in selling luxury cars because that’s what our customers wanted but now the average vehicle I sell is about $11,000. I still sell some higher end cars, but I’ve increased the number of vehicles that I carry on my lot that are $10,000 or less. I also offer contactless delivery and make sure the vehicles are sanitized thoroughly before they’re delivered. And of course, I continue to discuss the importance of following protocols and procedures with my staff to ensure that we’re keeping both ourselves and our customers safe.”

Despite all of the ups and downs she’s experienced recently, Furdyna says she still has big plans for the future. “My ultimate goal is to open a Tesla dealership on the property I currently own while continuing to run my current dealership. I support innovative technology because I think that’s our future. I just turned 35 and this is the fifth dealership I’ve had a part in opening and I really enjoy what I’m doing. I love to help people. I have clients that have been coming to me for the last 12 years, some of whom have purchased up to 10 cars from one of my dealerships because they feel comfortable working with me. I want to build something bigger so I can provide a good life to my children and our two cats that I adopted during the pandemic.”

Now that she’s a seasoned dealer, she said if a new dealer is looking for suggestions on how to get started it’s to keep things simple. “My advice for new dealers is to start small and to keep costs down as much as possible. It’s also important to find the right lender who will best support your dealership needs and goals. For me that’s NextGear Capital, their floor plan allows me to purchase the cars I need and provides me with additional resources that help me to run my dealership more efficiently. I love NextGear Capital! They’ve been a great partner during a challenging time in my life and have provided me with the support I need to rebuild my business.”

To get started with a NextGear Capital floor plan, contact us or apply today.