The Following is an article form Automotive News, October 18, 1965
- Free work
- Builds sales faster than discount ads
Lakewood, Ohio: Take a durable car and back it up with sound service and you can penetrate a new market without resorting to discount selling.
That’s what Louis J. Vallo is proving with Checker Cleveland Sales Corp. in the suburb on the western edge of Cleveland.
Vallo faced quite a problem when he took over the outlet which is the Checker branch for Cleveland and surrounding county. The branch unlike other Checker branches does not have a volume taxi sales and service business to fall back on.
A few years ago there were a very few Checkers in operation in this area, which meant that the branch had little service business to pay the rent and was turning to sell a car that many prospects had never heard of.
Things are different now, Vallo expects to sell 150 new Checkers in the 1966 model year and to be able to take in 60 trades which can be moved at retail and the sales will be made without resorting to discount tactics. If performance in the year ahead comes up to expectations, the branch will enjoy its best year in history. Checkers on the road in the area already number in the hundreds.
There is service angle to almost everything in Vallo’s sales program. “I worked for dealerships handling many of the volume lines” Vallo recalled, “Naturally, I tried discounting when I came here and did I take a bath. Then I got wise, I started selling the good product we have. I started giving good service and then I topped that off by giving a little extra above and beyond good service.”
Extra-care service is what Vallo’s customers get, while most dealers are renting service loaners or trying to stay entirely out of the loaner business, Vallo’s branch offers loaners and promotes this extra service to its customers. “Once you buy a Checker here, you never walk” is the way Vallo puts it. This is one of the reasons that Vallo can sell cars through the county and still offer service in only one shop.
Vallo gives new owners quick proof that they are in for superb service. The branch’s shop has a rule that everything else must be dropped to handle new car preparation or service on a car with less than 4000 miles on it. “You can’t put them ahead forever but you’d be surprised how much it helps when you give them instant service in early period of ownership.” Vallo said.
Best Advertising “A little extra service, performed at no cost and before the customers has even asked for it, is probably the cheapest and best advertising you can get. Not long ago, I spotted a paint problem on a car which was in for some other services, so I had the roof repainted, I ended up with a satisfied customer who has since bought a new car and I had a sharper unit to trade.”
Checker offers a 12-month or 12000 mile warranty which is shorter than those offered by other domestic car producers. Vallo said that he finds this no problem, “We convince our customer that we are here to serve them”, he said. “We’ll give a free repair for a customer on a policy basis, if he has a legitimate complaint. We’ve done free work on cars that were as much as 30 months old because we felt it was right.”
Parts availability can be a problem for a car line which does not have a great number of units on the road. Checker’s branch here licks that one by maintaining an outsized inventory of parts, in addition to enjoying the Checker policy of fast shipments on emergency parts.
If a car is out of operation and the Cleveland branch does not have a part needed to get it back into service, that part is shipped to Cleveland by air freight. The part goes on the next plane bound for Cleveland.—it is not held up until the end of the day in which it is ordered.
Vallo has one advantage in finding good mechanics. There are mechanics for taxi companies who are trained in servicing Checker who sometimes want work in a shop with is open to the public. While Vallo relies on factory training to keep his men up to date. He feels that his real plus in dealing with mechanics is that fact that he pays his men more than the prevailing rates.
“I pay them a little more and more than make up for it in satisfied customers and fewer come-backs” he said. “They understand that good work in expected of them.” Fast corrections “when a service customer comes in here with a complaint. the men knock themselves out getting it correct before them trouble comes to my attention.”
The branch now has three general mechanics and two body men plus a porter in the shop and it’s filled to capacity with service work on an appointment basis. Body work on vehicles other than Checkers simply is not accepted.
Free loaners, extra pay for mechanics and other extra efforts in the service area can be expensive. Still Vallo said his shop makes money, “ I can count on some profits from the shop and some from the parts department each month,” he said. “we move our cars at a fair price and don’t fool around with used cars, except for the clean trades we take in, at the end of the month. I can go to sleep real easy.”
Good service is only half of what’s needed to make things swing at Checker Cleveland. A good product is also a must. Vallo is probably the greatest Checker enthusiast outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan, hometown of the Checker company. He is quick to point out that Checker is a car which lends itself to good service-its durable and its easily serviced.
Vallo noted that Checker is about the only car line which makes a practice of showing a bare chassis in auto shows. The car’s frame and other major components are impressive enough to be a sales feature.
In addition, the Checker is built to be serviced. For instance, the car has the same bumper on the front and back. A service outlet with only on bumper in stock is able to service a car on which either of the bumpers has been mangled.
Bolt-on fenders. also ease the body-repair job. The owner who crumples a fender today, we can order a fender-replacement for tomorrow. The replacement will be painted today and it can be put on almost in a matter of minutes when the car is brought into the shop for tomorrow.
The article kind of falls off a cliff, so its hard to determine how long or successful Mr. Vallo was in his Checker venture. Sadly via a little internet sleuthing it appears that Mr. Vallo passed away in November of 1971, it’s not clear who took over his business, after he passed away.