this Dealer Knows Good Customer Experience

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Jordan Baker’s first job was hardly what he would call glamorous. “My career began in the car business when I was 12-years-old. My family owned dealerships in Grand Rapids, MI and I would do odd jobs like pulling weeds and washing cars, so I basically started from the bottom and then slowly worked my way up.”

After spending several years learning the ropes at various car lots, Baker decided it was time to take the plunge and in 2018 opened his own dealership Comodo Motors. “We started out small and grew with a swift force averaging 50 vehicles on our lot. At first I only used my own cash, but it quickly became apparent that our growth and goals of expansion would not be viable based on a cash-only system that was tied up in payroll and reconditioning. That’s when I decided to use a floor plan. Now we average just over 100 cars on the lot at any given time.”

When it was time to pick a floor plan provider, a previous encounter made the decision easy. “I made the choice to work with NextGear Capital because they were very professional and organized. My Portfolio Manger, Jacob Clemons, is extraordinary. He always goes above and beyond working with us and is exceptionally responsive which is greatly appreciated in such a busy industry. I’ve also found that they have some of the lowest fees in the industry and will do everything from flooring a car to holding  titles. NextGear Capital makes me feel like a true partner instead of just another number.”

Another thing that’s impressed Baker about working with NextGear Capital is the Account Portal tool. “Our Comodo team is made up of 10 people and everyone loves Account Portal. It’s so simple to use and has everything we need in one place. The ease of access to account information aids in being able to plan for payments, purchases and early vehicle payoffs, which helps properly direct company cash-flow.”

Baker says that he’s also an avid user of several other Cox Automotive brands. “I work with Manheim and appreciate how accessible information regarding past, present and future transactions is to find on their website. In addition, both AutoTrader and Kelley Blue Book help our sales team and customers have a better understanding of the true market price for our vehicles. All of these products along with NextGear Capital help us to enhance the Comodo Experience.”

Unlike a lot of other dealerships, Comodo was surprisingly prepared when the pandemic hit. “I’ve been an advocate for digital retailing from the beginning, so when COVID started we were already in ‘pandemic mode’. We designed our website so that customers are able to complete most of the sales journey online. They can get pre-approved, see their trade-in value, do a full video walk-around of each vehicle available on our lot and reserve the car they’re interested in purchasing all before coming in to finalize their paperwork. We’ve always offered local at-home deliveries but have modified them to be completely contactless making for a convenient, customer-centric experience.”

Part of creating that experience for Baker includes putting customers in both an efficient and aesthetically pleasing environment. “My wife started painting out of our house about 5 years ago when we lived down in Florida. When we moved back to Michigan her business was going really well, and we were selling a lot of her paintings from our house. So, when I opened my dealership, we decided to use some of the showroom space to display her artwork and that’s when we officially opened Copper Corners Art Gallery. Having artwork on the walls makes for a very relaxing environment and our customers certainly appreciate it. It’s also been really cool, to work with my wife every day.”

Now that Baker’s been successfully running his business for a few years, when asked what advice he has for other dealers getting started, he said not to be afraid of change. “The biggest thing that you can take from all of this is you have to be okay with new things happening. Being in the business for a long time, we’ve seen that there are a lot of people in the automotive industry that don’t really want to change, and you have to be flexible. If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that this industry changes so quick. Look at what’s happened with inventory and we’re seeing what’s happening with online retailing. If you’re not open to it, you aren’t bringing anything to the table and you’re going to fall behind. A big part of this is adapting to what the customer wants. If the customer wants a more digital and visual experience, then you have to give it to them. Honestly, its made things so much more efficient for my business. On the floor plan side, I’m obviously an advocate for NextGear Capital because of their transparency when it comes to things like audits, titles and fees. I’ve seen multiple floor plan companies and this one is by far the best. So if there’s a dealer out there looking for a floor plan company, he needs to partner with NextGear Capital.”

When thinking about the future, Baker says he’s very optimistic. “Five years from now I anticipate significant expansion at our location, growing into a large-scale family owned and operated dealership unlike any other. Floor planning with NextGear Capital has given me a secure way to increase inventory and flourish as a business. The culture we’ve built at Comodo is honesty, transparency and a comfort level that makes you feel like you’re at home. That’s another way my business aligns with NextGear Capital and that’s what the Comodo Experience is all about.”