Farmington Hills Sellers Buick/GMC car dealership reached a milestone, celebrating 50 years in the automotive business.
Bob Sellers, the original owner, opened his Pontiac car dealership in 1972 in Redford. His father owned a Ford dealership in Detroit, located at Southfield and Grand River, and he grew up admiring the auto industry. The oil embargo hit the country in 1973, and Sellers’ fledgling car dealership faced its first – one of many – business challenges.
He continued to grow his business over the years through his personal hands-on management style with his customers and employees.
A lot has changed since the dealership opened in 1972, from one of its first cars sold, the 1972 Pontiac Grand Prix, to the new electric car sold at Sellers in 2024, the GMC Hummer EV Pickup and SUV.
An important milestone in the history of Sellers Automotive Group was the hiring of Sam Slaughter by Sellers, first as their washer when he was 16 years old in a summer job, until years later after he graduated from the University of Michigan and worked for General Motors.
Slaughter saw Sellers as a teacher and mentor in the car ownership business. In 2006 Sellers handed over the keys to his business to Slaughter, who embraced his new role as owner with passion and pride.
Slaughter has three main rules for achieving success in business that he modeled following:
- Don’t cheat anyone out of anything
- You take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers
- Be positive. Be the cheerleader and lead strategist behind the company’s goals
Forty years ago Slaughter washed cars at Sellers, but this experience helped him appreciate every job at the dealership, as well as the importance of the company valuing every employee as they focus on their customers.
The company’s tagline is “Reputation is everything,” and 50% of Sellers 215 employees have been with the dealership for 10 years or more, and that includes their 59 employees at Sellers Subaru in Macomb Township, which was acquired in 2013 .
In 2009, Sellers faced a critical business dilemma. General Motors was canceling its Pontiac product line, and this model accounted for 65% of Seller’s annual business. GMC contributed 35%, but Pontiac’s loss was devastating.
However, their ability to adapt internally and externally, to believe that their vision and belief within their leadership team would help support marketing changes, set the stage necessary to embrace their new line. of GM Buick products. In 2005 Sellers sold zero Buicks, and in 2010 they sold more Buicks than any other dealer in the country.
Not only was Sellers switching from Pontiac to Buick in 2009, but they were moving forward on a $1.5 million showroom renovation in Farmington Hills. Reinvesting in the community has always been a key focus for their business to turn to during a time of need.
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Success today is much different than it was in 1972. About 95% of sales today are connected to the Internet in some way, through online searches. The phones are ringing instead of the customer coming through the front door. Approximately 60% of their business is new car sales and 80% is leasing, which is the preferred method of purchase.
Buyers look for the best car options at the most affordable cost and shop around at different dealers. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Sellers purchased 2 flatbed trucks so they could deliver cars to buyer’s homes, eliminating the need for them to come into the dealership. Although new car inventory is low for all dealers, Dealers found that their used car market, including the sale of existing leased cars that were ready for delivery, helped continue to fill the current market needs.
Slaughter said the future vision of Mary Barra, chairman and chief executive of General Motors, has been a driving force behind the success of the GM brand. GM electric car technology will continue to provide cars and trucks that meet the demands of the public. Dealers already have 5 new Hummers sold and more than 200 on the waiting list for the 2024 Hummer electric pickup and SUV sold through their GMC product line.
Fifty years in business does not happen by accident. Sixty percent of her business is “repeat buyers” when there are 22 other local merchants selling the same products.
Slaughter is a valued member of the Farmington Hills Economic Development Committee and his company’s 50 years in business is a template for other businesses in our city to look up to.
Sellers Buick/GMC is located at 38000 Grand River Ave. in Farmington Hills. Reach him at sellersbuickgmc.com or 248-579-4398.