Jeep buyers are highly educated, and they tend to know exactly what they want when they visit a dealership. So says William “Bill” Small, general manager of Ferman Auto Group, one of the largest automotive groups in Florida. Small loves the brand just as much as his customers do, and he is proud of the work his dealership does to serve them.
“I don’t drive a Jeep every day, but in my business, I am fortunate to have access to them, and I am a very big enthusiast,” Small says.
That kind of attitude is one of the reasons Ferman Auto Group is one of the top places to buy, sell and service Jeeps of all types. Small and his managers and staff believe their business isn’t about “selling” anyone anything. Rather, they take the approach that it is their role to serve their customers – to be there when they need them, to answer questions, and to make sure they always get exactly what they need, when they need it.
“The age of the internet and information is already at their fingertips,” explains Small. “We try to be a servant. I have people call me for jobs. They’ll say they’re interested in a job but don’t think of themselves as a salesperson. I ask, ‘How do you feel about people? Do you care enough to be a servant to them?'”
A History of Service
The Ferman Auto Group was founded in 1895. Today, the group has 13 locations, with Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-RAM dealerships in Tampa and New Port Richey. And the group has evolved right alongside the Jeep brand. Small notes that, for most of its existence, the Wrangler was a utilitarian, two-door, off-roader, not designed for or welcoming to families. But when the four-door Unlimited model came out, the lineup became accessible to a much wider range of people. “They made the vehicles remain rugged, and at the same time, their appeal has grown to include other segments of the market,” says Small.
The Wrangler Unlimited, along with the Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Compass SUVs, is bringing more families into the Jeep fold, Small says, which dovetails with Ferman’s corporate culture. “I try to treat everyone who works with me like family. I think we’re going to whatever we can to do what’s right. We like to err in the direction of generosity.”
And it isn’t just the employees who are family. He notes that “Anything a guest needs, we’re going to do everything we can, within reason.” And that, Small says, is what really sets Ferman Auto Group apart, and what ultimately has led to their success: They care.
But Ferman Auto Group doesn’t just talk the talk. They also walk the walk. “We don’t use addendums. There is no additional markup,” Small stresses. The price they list for each vehicle is the price the consumer is going to pay, with no attempts to obfuscate the true price. “One thing drives me crazy about industry, and that’s advertising that’s not truthful.”
That philosophy extends beyond new-vehicle sales. Used-car buyers and service customers get the same treatment. Small notes that one of Ferman’s pre-owned lots include about a dozen Wranglers, and they tend to go fast. (“If I could get twice as many, I’d sell them all.”) The technicians that Ferman Auto Group employs are all factory-certified, but even here, that’s not what Small focuses on when talking about his dealership group. Instead, he notes that the store recognizes that everyone in the equation is human, and their goal is to make sure that everyone walks away happy.
“It’s the same thing in service. In one of our Jeep stores, we have probably 175 to 200 employees. Someone’s going to make a mistake. We try not to make mistakes. But if we do, we’ll fix it. We know how to say we’re sorry.”
Convenience is another aspect of service as well. While some dealerships still struggle with how to marry the online and offline components of the service department, Ferman Auto Group has forged ahead. They are one of the few offering the ability to make online appointments, for example, as they constantly look for new and better ways to serve their customers’ needs.
Nuts and Bolts
Ferman Auto Group operates 13 Central Florida dealerships, including Jeep stores in Tampa and New Port Richey.
• Ferman Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Tampa
2431 State Road 54 33559
Sales: (877) 292-6296
Service: (888) 893-5247
• Ferman Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram of New Port Richey
4023 US-19 34652
Sales: (877) 300-6346
Service: (888) 737-6571
Another reason to give Ferman Auto Group your business? The service doesn’t stop at their doors.
The company is heavily involved in a variety of community outreach projects, looking to get involved and help in their communities as much as they can. “I am heavily involved in support of law enforcement, especially the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office,” says Small. “They are heroes who deserve our support. The Jeep community also supports law enforcement, so it’s a great fit.”
Just one example is an annual Jeepin 4 Justice that Ferman helped sponsor in partnership with Pasco County Sheriff Charities. The third annual event will be held November 10-12.
“There are some great people that seem to me to be more like one big family in the many Jeep clubs that are in the area,” says Small. “They do a tremendous amount of work in the community. For example, I am very proud of the Pasco Sheriff’s Volunteer Search and Rescue that has a huge amount of participation, and does great work in Pasco County.”
As far as Small is concerned, Ferman Auto Group is the total package. They are an automotive company that realizes the people have to come first, and they embody that philosophy in everything they do. Their employees are family, their customers are valued, and the vehicles and service they provide have to be the best. It doesn’t matter whether someone walks on the lot with a Jeep to trade in or sell – and whether they are longtime enthusiasts or recent converts to the brand – Small says Ferman Auto Group will ensure they get exactly what they need and want, every time.