• Mark Beneke is a co-owner and interim sales manager at Westland Auto Sales in Fresno, California.
  • He bought his father from the company in 2015 and operates a “buy here, pay here” model.
  • It brings in over $ 500,000 per month. Here’s her story, told to freelance writer Kim Dahlgren.

This essay as told is based on a transcribed conversation with Mark Beneke, a 30-year-old car dealership from Fresno, Calif., About his business. It has been edited for length and clarity.

With my brother Eric, I own Westland Auto Sales. We took over the business in 2015 and increased the portfolio by over $ 1 million this year alone to a total of $ 5 million (it was $ 500,000 in 2015).

I was born in El Salvador, but in 2000 my family immigrated to the United States in search of the American dream

My father started Westland Auto Sales in 2007, which he owned and worked in until my brother and I bought him in 2015.

Our business is different from traditional auto dealers in that we are a “buy here, pay here” dealership, which means we do not finance our cars through lenders but in-house. Using this model means a higher ROI, but a bit riskier business due to the type of customer base.

For the past five years, I have been Acting Sales Manager

Each morning begins with a meeting with our sales team and lasts from 15 minutes to an hour depending on the day. We disperse all leads and finalize documents for all transactions we have pending.

Since we do all the underwriting in-house, we need to assess each client based on their income and other contributing factors. From there, we make sure the sales team takes calls with customers, greets them in store, and walks them through the steps of buying a car. We have around 15 employees (compared to seven in 2015), four of whom are currently in sales positions.

One of the reasons for our success is that we are able to differentiate ourselves – we never try to compete with the bigger dealers or those who work with lenders.

We are trying to be the best buy here, pay the dealer in our area here.

With the buy here, pay here model, our customer base tends to be low-income people or people with bad credit who can’t get a loan anywhere else. We treat our customers like people. For us, they are first-rate customers. We care, and they see it.

We also offer a free warranty to customers and start with down payments as low as $ 500 – many in-house dealers in the area don’t. Others buy here, pay here, dealerships require 50 or 60% down payment, and sell older cars with hundreds of thousands of miles. This is a pattern of “bleeding”: you bleed the client for everything they have. It doesn’t matter if they come back. We wouldn’t feel good to run our business this way.

Our primary method of acquiring inventory is through retail auctions, which are only available to authorized dealers.

We also accept trade, although the effects of the pandemic on the supply chain have also impacted our business.

Before the pandemic, we used to buy around 15 cars a week to sell on our land – we are now buying around three. Prices have also increased at all levels. What you could have bought for $ 10,000 a few years ago may be closer to $ 13,000 or $ 14,000 now.

Once we have identified and purchased the vehicles we are interested in and those that meet the criteria of what we sell at the dealership – station wagons, SUVs, sedans and trucks – we bring them back to our in-house workshop for a safety check. . Check. We fix the ones that need it, then put them on the ground for sale.

The number of cars we have on our lot depends on the time of year

Towards the end of the year, we stock up on new inventory for tax season, our busiest time of the year. When people get their tax returns, the first thing many of them want to do is buy a new car.

At the start of the fourth quarter, we’re usually sitting on about 100 to 120 cars. By January we will have maybe 130-140. But by May, we’ll be back to 70. Right now, due to supply chain issues, we’re down to about 70 right now.

Despite this, we are currently focused on increasing sales. The average sales amount we sell per month is around 35 cars for the entire dealership, which already gives us a good increase in our portfolio. We recently increased our monthly car sales “quota” to 42, and so far we have met our targets.

Our average monthly income is over $ 500,000

And in addition to having to close for a month or two at the start of the pandemic, we are now seeing the same number of buyers as before the pandemic.

In July, my brother and I recruited two new hires to take over our senior roles at the dealership. While we are still involved on a daily basis, we are focusing more on the backend of the business – growing, with the ambition to open additional locations.

Working with family is great because you know you have someone you can trust

You can count on them to do well and keep going. You know their way of working and you have each other’s best interests in mind. And although we have had our differences, we have always been able to resolve them very quickly. We understand and respect the roles of everyone in the company.

And although we have created a great company, after working in the automotive industry for over a decade, I can say that a car is just a form of transportation. Luxury vehicles – although beautiful – are identical to a small Chevrolet Sonic. While we are still excited about the arrival of certain vehicles in the parking lot, the cars no longer impress us. Still, we can’t wait to see Westland Auto Sales grow and expand to serve more people.


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