This is the real me, the real Ted Heater, manager of CarSmart in Kansas City.
You see me on tv, hear me on the radio, but in real life? I’m dad to Grace and Evan. Husband to best friend Jennifer Heater. And the manager of the largest independently owned used car dealership in Missouri or Kansas.
Know this: I love my job.
I’m not acting on the radio. I’m that pumped to be breaking down the stereotypes of car buying and remake the industry. Seriously. I’m trying to bust the negative image of car dealers by infusing honesty and transparency into everything we do.
I know what most people think about car dealers, heck, I know what I think about most dealers. But the Ted Heater you hear on the radio is the real deal. I’m taking my business smarts, my political science background, and my dad-perspective to this business of car selling, and I aim to eliminate the “ew” car dealer reputation that plagues my industry.
Here’s my story.
Why should you read this? Because the more you know about me, the more likely you are to reach out to let me help you get in the car you want.
There’s no smoke or mirrors here: We’re a Kansas City business aiming to provide quality, high value, affordable vehicles to our community.
No tricks. No skeevey bait and tricks. We’ve got a great product at a great price and I’m a car dealer you can believe in. I put my name on it.
So, here’s my story:
The Early Years – hard work and dedication:
I’m a product of Kansas City. Growing up, my life was a tale of two hard working parents. Dad was a manager of a car dealership and Mom worked in a pizza shop before putting herself through nursing school. I learned at an early age about hard work and long hours. It was a crazy upbringing but one that taught endless compassion and discipline.
Mom and Dad always instilled in a strong sense of follow through, and impenetrable ethical nature. My mom, Joy, remains my greatest hero-who just retired from being a nurse.
Life B.C. (before car dealership):
I started running track and cross-country when I was 9 years old. At one time I held several age group National records and even trained with Olympic Gold medalists Maurice Greene and Tim Harden. I attended college and aspired to be an attorney or work for the F.B.I. But 3 days after college, I took a job buying cars for a friend of my dad’s dealership. It was a dream job for a 22 year old-big career, big travel, big money, and big respect!
So, why give all that up?
Believe it or not, the switch had to do with my mom. In a meeting one day, I was pondering what I was really doing. There was a lot of talk about how to take advantage of the customer. How to fleece everybody you could. How to literally “rip somebody off.” I felt guilty sitting there. I felt sick to my stomach. But most important, I felt ashamed. How could I face my mom? After everything she instilled. After the example she set. What would she say if she knew I was a part of this? What if I applied her approach to the car business? Why not give all this up and start my own dealership?
I grew up around the dinner table hearing about the daily grind of the car business. When car dealers are considered shadesters, who wants to be in a business where customers dread walking in the door and feel like they are always being lied to?
I wanted to change this.
What would happen if the car business eliminated the stereotype? How would the industry change if customers were treated with respect, with their questions answered timely and honestly? What would happen if the ethics I hold close in my personal life were carried over to business? And what if I hired like-minded automotive and finance experts, who met people’s needs, treated them honestly and there was no b.s.?
What if I was a car dealer “for the people”? Sure sounds hokey, but seriously, a real person selling real cars to real people? Experts told me to forget it; I was crazy-don’t try to change the status quo; it’ll never work.
But I kept at it, talking to sales managers and owners, and hearing the same story over and over: “I’ve been doing this for 26 years, and I started washing cars in high school. What do you know about selling cars?”
The undertones of anti-change, anti-customer were loud and clear. This was not going to be easy, but I kept at it, knowing this would be an ideal opportunity to give back to the Kansas City community. And change the car industry, one customer at a time.
The Grand Experiment
In 1998, I opened a dealership in North Kansas City. I chose used cars because I liked the value and variety. No fluff-just real value. And, the grand experiment of treating people honestly and putting no sales pressure on them commenced day one. Don’t misunderstand: I want to make money. But not at the expense of my reputation. Fair and honest car dealers shouldn’t be an oxymoron, and I was committed to changing that. Plus, wouldn’t customers be more likely to buy cars from an automotive and finance expert who met their needs, answered their questions, rather than pushing a product at all costs?
Seems logical doesn’t it? And it’s working.
It’s been 14 years and the experiment is no longer an experiment; it’s a successful modus operandi for the people.
Today I remain the largest independently owned car dealer in the Midwest. And maybe my mom had a lot to do with it. I don’t know. But by instilling compassion and ethics into everything we do, we experience repeat and referral business with customer’s buying their first, and second, and third car from us. Sending families and friends: “Yes, CarSmart,” they say. “Ask for Ted. He’ll take care of you.”
And that’s my story. How I became Ted Heater, the Dealer for the People!
The secret to my success is quite simple: when you apply a moral, ethical stand to whatever you do-even a car dealership!-and fulfill your customer’s specific needs with one-on-one attention, success is imminent!
Got a question? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.