Smoke and side mirrors: How the power of a bbq spurred a small town car dealer to the top

by Stan Phelps

in Uncategorized

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Landers became one of the largest Chrysler Jeep dealers by giving the little extras

#347 in the Purple Goldfish Project was submitted by Marty Desmond.  Marty commented on the X Blog at ‘The Experience Factor’ from a post called, “What’s Your Purple Goldfish?”

Landers Chrysler Jeep

“In 1994, my ex-wife and I read an article about Steve Landers, owner of Landers Chrysler Jeep in Benton, Arkansas. Despite being located in a suburb of Little Rock, a small city, his dealership came within a couple cars from being the #1 Chrysler dealer in terms of # vehicles sold. In the article was a story about how a teacher once told him that he would not amount to anything. We were impressed with his story and decided to buy a car from him.

After we closed the deal, Steve gave us a package that included an invitation to a barbecue two weeks later. At that barbecue, we discovered why he sold so many cars.

The shop was immaculate, with brand new cars located in all of the stalls. As we were eating, one of the employees passed out gift bags which included a mug. Then, Steve got up and thanked everyone for our business. He said that, because he sold so many cars from around the state, some other dealerships did not like him. He offered to, if we ran into problems anywhere in the state, come and pick us and our vehicle up and bring us back. The final extra was to point out that there was one of each vehicle they sold in a service stall. With each vehicle was a mechanic who was ready to demonstrate how to maintain the vehicle, change tires, check fluids, etc.

His business was booming from word of mouth advertising. There was also a coffee mug from the gift bags which I used for 12 years. For 16 years, I’ve been telling that story. The barbecue was very cost effective advertising.”

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra) – Here is some background on the origin of the word Jeep and one of the more bizarre videos I’ve ever seen on YouTube.  Enjoy!

Thousands of words have been written about the origin of the Jeep name:

Because the origins of the Jeep are so entwined with its military heritage, many believe the name Jeep came from a corruption of the US Army acronym GP, for General Purpose, then used for any quarter-ton front-wheel drive reconnaissance car.

Others say the name was lifted from the nickname used during the 1930s for the specialist trucks kitted out with equipment to drill wells in the American oil fields.

Then there is the Popeye strip cartoon alternative. Eugene the Jeep was a small, impish animal that had the power to solve all sorts of problems – just like the 4×4 car of the same name – and which featured in the Popeye cartoon strips created by E.C.Segar from 1936.

Move over purple goldfish . . . check out these Arkansas catfish

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