As I sit here typing the words ‘Cadillac Dealer Near Me‘ into the Google search bar, I’m more than a little surprised. I never pictured myself as being (even casually) interested in the Cadillac brand. Sure, it was the choice of the septuagenarian dentist who lived across the street from me as a child, but (aside from the niche appeal of the Escalade) Cadillac never really felt like a relevant brand in my lifetime.
I find myself laughing, recalling an article I had read about a year-and-a-half ago; an article which almost perfectly summarized my views on the Cadillac brand. Inspired by the 3.1% decrease in market share which had occurred over an eight-year time-span, the writer offered a tongue-in-cheek indictment of GM /Cadillac’s short-sightedness in assessing their dwindling sales and a diminishing generational touchstone. From GM’s perspective, the younger generation of drivers’ collective lack of appreciation for superior driving dynamics was to blame. From the author’s perspective, GM sounded exactly like the automotive equivalent of a senior citizen, angry about the frivolity of youth. In other words, the brand had become a self-fulfilling stereotype.
But as I continued to make my way through that article, as well as others that would follow across various sources in the last year-and-a-half, Cadillac’s story had begun to change. It began to echo an almost uncharacteristic sense of humility and introspection, recognizing the loss of market share, pledging to reinvigorate the lineup in order to attract a new generation of buyers. And the resulting decision to introduce 11 new models to the luxury segment, well, let’s just say the brand had (surprisingly) re-acquired my attention – and the CT6 all but sealed the deal.
So, here I am, interested – and looking for the perfect Cadillac dealership in the Fort Worth area to partner with. Knowing exactly what I’m looking for (and already having my financing in place) I’m more focused on service and culture than anything else. That said, my search went a little something like this.
James Wood Cadillac
First on my list was the first one that came up in my search results: James Woods Cadillac. As a Cadillac dealer website, it was every bit as polished and positive as one might expect. So, I went looking for reviews (which after a few clicks, I found) and saw that I had over 500 to choose from. Call me a cynic, but a quick sort of ratings to show me the lowest first, I was disappointed to find quite a few recent negative entries. Granted, negative reviews are common no matter where you look – but all too often, they border on being emotionally-driven. The criticisms found were all succinct, clearly-stated, and offered specific details, timelines, etc. Nobody’s perfect, sure, but it was enough to compel me to explore other options.
Cadillac of Arlington
About 15 miles west, I found Cadillac of Arlington’s site and – to be completely honest – the first thought was sprung in my mind was a concern that I had never left the James Woods Cadillac page. Okay…in all fairness, any lack of design diversity probably comes down to restrictions placed upon each dealership by the Cadillac brand – but I’m specifically looking for something to set one dealership apart from their competitors. So, I repeat the steps I’d previously taken and go looking for a Reviews page. That said, I’m quickly disappointed by my inability to find one under any of the tabs or drop-down menus – a bit of an instant turn-off if I’m being completely honest. As I said, I know what I want, I know what I can afford, and I know that any (and every) dealership will have it in inventory. I’m looking for trustworthiness and transparency.
Over in Weatherford, Jerry’s Cadillac popped up. Some solid branding is always a good sign, but the clear inclusion of a Reviews section with recent, positive, and specific reviews certainly worked in their favor. Of course, everyone’s experiences are subjective, but when the good outweighs the bad, it’s always a good sign. The only red flag (and it could certainly be chalked up to user error) is that the five-star ratings seemed to appear above reviews that were positive, as well as ones that were negative. Why someone would criticize the dealership, then give a five-star rating is beyond me — but it made me feel like I’d need to read deeper into everything I came across. Did I really want to do that, or did I want to continue on with my search? Guess what: I chose the latter.
But I could feel my frustration increasing. To be a well-qualified buyer limited by geography, uninspired due to brand uniformity, and lacking any tangible reassurance was irritating. Maybe my experiences with these dealerships would be great, and maybe I just needed to visit them in person. But no. It’s 2018, and I refuse to accept an inability to move forward with a well-informed decision based on online research.
Frank Kent Cadillac
Oddly, my search would come full circle. Recalling some of those articles I had read so many months prior, it was one published by CNBC which included an interview with Will Churchill of Frank Kent Cadillac, that got my head spinning. In the article, Mr. Churchill had been forthcoming about difficulties experienced at the dealer level, reiterating his belief in the Cadillac brand, but hopeful for better days as a result of retracting of the lineup. As anyone in the Fort Worth area knows, Frank Kent Motor Company is a major player across a variety of automotive brands – but also has a variety of other interests. From breweries and wine bars to grilling, Frank Kent is known for being an ambitious group of professionals possessing a high level of integrity and offering a strong culture based on respect.
So I dug in deeper. I shouldn’t have been surprised that the website was fairly cookie-cutter in terms of branding. But I did make my way over to the reviews and found exactly what I had expected to: a blend of both positive and negative insights, based on personal experiences: some specific, some more vague and emotive. At the end of the day, car-buying is a very personal experience, and there’s bound to be a mix of both. So, I jump over to the Frank Kent Culture tab for the proverbial shits and giggles, and that’s when I see a face that registers as being familiar.
In a photo, a nicely-dressed couple is shown with (who I assumed was) the father giving a piggy-back ride to (who I assumed to be) their young son. It turns out that this is Will Churchill, the same guy who offered his forthright and transparent insights in that CNBC article I’d mentioned earlier. But more than that, Will Churchill was a gentleman who I’d unknowingly ‘met’ in passing once, who graciously held the door open for a large group of people and offered me (a complete stranger) an almost-unnecessary level of friendliness. Only niceties were exchanged, but I remember that the encounter was refreshing in what can often be a discourteous world.
Framed by that memory, the website’s breakdown of Frank Kent Culture felt like a logical extension of what I had personally experienced. Plus, it made me happy that I’d frequented Fort Brewery on more than one occasion, and have some of their grilling rubs in my own cabinet (and trust me, they’re delicious). I guess it just goes to show you that, if you’re a local businessperson, be kind and gracious in your daily life. You never know when you might be in the presence of a potential customer.
With a belief in supporting local business, and in choosing partners based on an assurance of integrity and reliability, I felt assured by my decision to reach out to Frank Kent Cadillac. If General Motors had changed my mind about Cadillac, Frank Kent Cadillac had changed my mind about dealership integrity.