LOVELAND — ClearShift, a Highlands Ranch-based used auto dealership, expects to open a Northern Colorado location in the former Loveland Ford space at 999 E. Eisenhower Blvd. this year, probably late summer.
Jeff VanderWal, founder and CEO of the VanderWal MotorCar Co. Inc., told BizWest Wednesday that the company will remodel and upgrade the former dealership to put its own visual stamp on the operation. When fully open, he expects to have more cars in Loveland than what he has in Greenwood Village — the website listed 198 cars as of today.
“We will be working with Loveland to change the front of the facility. We’re a forward-thinking organization or very different when it comes to car dealers,” VanderWal said. The facility will be similar in appearance to his existing dealership.
“I’m excited about Loveland as a whole. I’ve been in Colorado my whole life, and I love that community,” he said.
He expects his northern location to sell a lot of trucks and SUVs; he said the company already has a lot of customers from the northern region. “We cover about 1% of the total Northern Colorado market now,” he said.
VanderWal said while he owns a dealership, he had not worked at a dealership prior to opening his company.
“I knew what I wanted to do from age 7. I knew I wanted to be in the car business. But I hated the dealer model,” he said.
He said ClearShift will focus on “serving people instead of buying low and selling high. We’ll give people our best, and people will want to do business with us.”
ClearShift sales people are called “purchase guides,” he said. “If people have prior automotive experience, we don’t hire them,” he said of his hiring practice.
“We hire people from the hospitality industry,” he said. “We want people to relate to the consumer in what can be a very emotional transaction. The typical experience (in buying cars) is high pressure. We train our people to help people, and to treat people the way we want to be treated.”
Purchase guides are paid flat salaries, not commissions, he said.
Technicians, on the other hand, do have automotive experience. While the dealership will maintain vehicles that have service contracts on them, he expects that most of the service-bay work will be devoted to preparing used cars for resale.
“We have extremely high-quality cars,” he said. While unwilling to divulge the dealership’s formula, he said the company taps relationships with manufacturers and others to secure vehicles that are low-mileage and late-model.
At one time, VanderWal also had a leasing company that bought cars in bulk, leased them and then resold them when lease terms were up.
“We put what we need to into the cars in order to stand behind them,” he said.
Trained staff members from Highlands Ranch will help staff the new location initially. “In the next 24 months, we’ll have 50 newly hired employees and have about 80 at that particular store eventually,” he said.