For over 10 years he hasn’t been ‘jerking people around’.
No one wants to feel like a sucker. Bring up the topic of lawyers or politicians and a conversation inevitably turns to stories of professional chicanery. Also targeted by consumers is the portrayal of the quintessential back-slapping glad-hander …the used car salesman. West Valley Auto Plaza owner Nick Markosian, however, is determined to prove that he is on your side.
Nick’s enthusiasm for cars shines like freshly waxed paint. Declining a music scholarship to the U to play saxophone, he instead chose to pursue a calling he jokingly calls a “genetic mutation,” given the profession’s awkward reputation. “I have this early memory,” Nick recalls, “of being three or four-years old, going into Rick Warner’s and being completely mesmerized.” He started subscribing to car magazines when he was 12, negotiated his first car deal at 14, began selling the day he graduated from high school, and at 20 was the Rick Warner Nissan dealership best salesman of the year. The first car he ever sold is still factory fresh in his memory. “It was a regular cab Nissan 4×4. I sold it to a guy named Todd. He got a great deal,” he adds with a smile.
Not one to leave his engine idling, in 1996 Nick and a former partner opened their business in the 3800 block of Redwood Road where used car lots are as commonplace as coffee shops in Sugar House. Ask someone if they know the blandly named West Valley Auto Plaza and they might hesitate, but people definitely know about the dealer who won’t jerk you around. Capitalizing on the very stereotype of the wacky, over-the-top salesman, Nick has created an indelible presence in radio and television advertising. Commenting on using a strategy that may reinforce people’s already negative assumption of his profession Nick comments, “I think it’s fun and a great way to get people to remember me. We’ve even had a contest for people’s best jerked around story.”
So what exactly does being jerked around mean, and how does West Valley Auto alleviate that condition? Shifting to a serious gear, Nick explains, “There definitely are red flags for the buyer. For example, if the seller is not totally willing to show you the book sheet or CARFAX, move on. Also,go to your bank or credit union and know where you stand,” he advises.
Helping potential customers know where they stand is fundamental to a business catering largely to the “unbankable customer,” people with less than perfect credit. Nick’s business practice has earned West Valley Gephardt Approved status (denoting fair customer treatment) and is the only independent used car dealership in Utah to have that honor. “We will tell you straight, if and how we can help you. We’ve established great relationships with the banks, have a buy-here-pay-here program and offer two-year warranties on cars we finance.” Customer concern also keeps folks employed., “We’re a business. If we’re not making a profit, it doesn’t help anyone, but do I think a customer is better off buying a car from my than from my competitor? Absolutely!” §
Nick Markosian at West Valley Auto Plaza located at 3899, South Redwood Road