Car-Mart Stays the Course in Low-Interest Environment

by Marty Cook  on Monday, Sep. 1, 2014 12:00 am  

CEO Hank Henderson says there are some deals America’s Car-Mart can’t match. | (Photo by Beth Hall)

The company opened two stores in the first quarter for a total of 136, and Henderson said the company still plans to open another eight this fiscal year. Car-Mart is being more methodical about store openings, Henderson said, as part of an internal decision to improve the support and training for store managers, a position in which the company has experienced too much turnover in recent years.

Car-Mart’s new lots — those 5 years old or younger — saw vehicle sales increase 39 percent to 24.4 per month, while lots 5-10 years old saw an increase of 2.3 percent. The company’s older lots, those more than 10 years old, saw a 2.8 percent decrease to 30.7 vehicles a month.

Henderson said the growth was toughest on the company’s oldest stores because those have the largest customer base and, oftentimes, repeat customers are looking for an upgrade with their next purchase. Car-Mart prides itself on its repeat customers — that’s what Henderson talks about in the TV commercials that he closes with the company’s slogan, “Drive Easy” — and Henderson said repeat business held steady at 33 percent of sales.

“We did have a lot of new stores that showed good growth year over year, where we took a hit on the volume was on our largest stores and also our oldest,” Henderson said. “For a time, those guys were down about 3 sales per month year over year. That doesn’t sound so bad when you talk about one store, but when you figured we have a lot of those stores, that does make a difference.”



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