be.” At Fleming’s, what’s under the hood is as
much a masterpiece as the chassis itself.
• Utilize You Tube. Think visually. If a
picture is worth a thousand words, a narrated
video is priceless. In 2005, while his competition was still fumbling with digital cameras,
Tony was nimbly leveraging You Tube as the
ultimate sales tool. Today, he parades his
inventory around the world, using brief walk-around videos that give his e-transactions a
nice “brick-and-mortar feel.”
• Consider other social media. Find
the social media tools that are right for your
business. Ignore the rest. The Ultimate Garage
team learned long ago that a killer Web site is
vitally important, but customers still must be
driven to it. To generate enthusiasm, all five
salesmen are heavy bloggers, producing content mainly for specialty-car Web sites. The
cars are listed on eBay, the online auction site,
but mainly to pull e-customers to Tony’s Web
site, where he seals the deal.
Facebook is another story. One of Tony’s
goals this year is to tap Facebook’s global
audience. Maybe it will pan out, he says,
maybe it won’t, but his savvy social media
marketing already reaches vast numbers of
aging baby boomers and members of generations X and Y.
• Make buying easy. More than half of
the Flemings’ customers never set foot in the
showroom: They’re too busy, too far away.
Tony avoids a potential sticking point by
including door-to-door shipping with
What else powers this on-the-go team?
Passion. “Customers are always complimenting our employees on how happy and dedicated they are,” Tony says. “Our team drives
up to two hours every day just to get here.
They work here because they want to—and it
Make your RV an EV automotive connectıon
Electric and biofuel car
conversions can save you
money down the road
Matthew Robb used to turn heads with his
souped-up Mach I Mustang, but today pilots
a sensible 1998 Toyota Camry.
PHOTO COURTESY FLEMING’S
By Dan Daley
LAST YEAR;the 10th anniversary of the
introduction of hybrid cars to the U.S. market
with the Honda Insight—272,272 gas-electric
hybrids were sold here, bringing the total on
American roads to more than 1. 5 million,
according to Hybridcars.com. That’s helped
reduce petroleum-fueled automotive emissions somewhat.
Hybrids are a good step toward lessening
dependence on petroleum fuels and lowering
our carbon footprint, but a number of other
alternatives can take that initiative even further.
Tony Fleming credits his
employees with fueling his
Virtually any vehicle can be converted to
all-electric propulsion, and a growing num-
ber of shops around the country sell do-it-
yourself conversion kits or will do the entire
project for you. Costco member Justin Dunn,
who owns Evolve Electrics, in Longmont,
Colorado, will sell you a DC (direct current)
conversion kit that replaces the entire internal
combustion engine (ICE, in EV-speak) for
about $7,000; AC (alternating current) kits
cost about $10,000. AC motors cost more and
require larger amounts of voltage— 12 to 160
volts for DC versus 288 to 312 volts for AC—
but they allow implementation of the regen-
erative braking feature found on hybrids,
which translates the kinetic energy of slowing
the car into electrical energy that can be
stored in the car’s batteries.