Classic Cadillac has firm roots in its home city of Atlanta, which have nourished the family-owned dealership’s steady growth over its 20 year history. Led by Owner and General Manager Michael Domenicone—who for years prior worked alongside his father and the company’s previous owner, Pat Domenicone—Classic Cadillac has grown to become the number one volume Cadillac dealer in Georgia, while still maintaining its decidedly non-corporate, neighborly presence as an active member of the Atlanta community.
“One of the nice things is that we are not a corporate-owned store,” says General Sales Manager Brian Long. “We are a family-owned dealership, and a lot of our employees have been here double digit years—several of them 20 plus years—so it is a very friendly environment, and we have the freedom and the flexibility to do what it takes to take care of customers.”
Long himself began working for the dealership about three and a half years ago, and crediting his ability to provide excellent customer service to the company’s culture of freedom and flexibility, he plans to be part of the Classic Cadillac team until his retirement. “I want to be here to take care of all our customers,” he says, “but we’ve especially got a soft spot for the livery industry.”
Having been the number one volume dealer in the state of Georgia for four years straight, Long says that the team at Classic resolved to put that personal level of customer service first when expanding into the livery industry.
“When we decided we wanted to participate in the professional vehicle program,” he says, “we knew that it was going to require giving top notch customer service to livery operators, from reaching out to them, to supporting their causes, and making sure they get priority treatment when they are in for service. When their vehicles are down, it’s income out of their pocket, so we make every effort to ensure their vehicles get pushed to the front and get taken care of ahead of others.”
In addition to providing priority service to their livery clientele, Long says Classic is committed to a strategy of aggressive discounting for this market. As there is a uniquely strong livery market in Atlanta associated with having one of the busiest airports in the world, as well as having a large commuter class, Classic recognizes the potential business to be had, and as a result, is committed to providing the best prices possible to the area’s livery operators.
Many high end hotels make up a large segment of Classic’s livery sales, says Long, and of the many vehicles sold to them, the Cadillac XTS has been the most popular model for quite some time. “The XTS,” he says, “has definitely been the most popular that we have seen make up the majority of fleets in general. There is a lot of age in the area’s fleets due to some conditions in our industry from 2008-2010.” Because there have been extensions on many specific requirements on the vehicles that regional owner-operators and contract-operators can operate, Long reports that Classic has seen a recent influx of them looking to replace their fleet vehicles before the new deadlines.
Based on his observations, Long predicts that the XTS will continue to be the most popular model in the livery industry throughout the coming year. “We are noticing that a lot of people replace their fleets or purchase new vehicles in the beginning to middle of the summer,” he says, “and now that the 2014s are out, they’ve got the incentives on them that they didn’t have until they were able to clear out the 2013 inventory. The overall trend in Atlanta with the economy coming back, and having one of the largest airports with a population that lives so far away from one another, is an increasing need for livery operators.” As such, prediction is hopeful that while the popularity of the XTS is likely to be maintained in the new year, the conditions are right for even a surge in XTS sales.
Classic Cadillac implements a unique and principled vision of marketing in order to connect with livery operators, and with all their customers for that matter. Along with maintaining an active social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, attending trade shows, and sending email newsletters to a subscriber list of basically every commercial operator in the state, Classic’s main strategy for marketing is giving back to the community by sponsoring charity events.
“As a dealership we do very little—if any—print, radio or TV advertising,” says Long. “What we do is support a lot of charitable organizations, and that is really our way of connecting with the community, and growing our customers’ awareness of where we are at, and what we are about.” According to Long, there is always some kind of charity luncheon being hosted at the dealership, or a cause the team is actively promoting awareness of around town.
Classic Cadillac currently supports over 20 different charitable organizations, the biggest of which is the CURE Childhood Cancer Fund. In addition to sponsoring CURE luncheons and golf outings, for several years the dealership has dedicated the entire month of August to raising funds and awareness for the charity. Dubbed CURE Month, Classic Cadillac in partnership with CURE provides its customers with the opportunity to donate directly to the charity, and have their donations matched dollar-for-dollar by the company. CURE Month has been routinely successful, and Long says it is something that the dealership will continue to do every year.
Another cause that was near and dear to the heart of Classic’s original owner, Pat Domenicone, was the Special Olympics of Georgia. As such, the team at Classic has always made an effort to carry on the company’s contributions to that cause in particular. “We have been a silver sponsor,” says Long, “for as long as anybody can remember around here.” Additionally, current Owner Michael Domenicone, is himself heavily involved with the American Cancer Society, and routinely invests time and contributions to the organization’s charity auctions and fundraising events.
Classic Cadillac’s continual growth and success clearly stems from its firmly established Atlanta roots. Whether it’s from the current owner’s years of working alongside his father in preparation for a future in the business, or the family culture of the company, or the dealership’s 20-year history of giving back to the community, Classic has become a true built-from-the-ground-up success story. With a foundation so sturdy and a mission so principled, it is no wonder that the company remains the recipient of the prestigious Cadillac Master Dealer Award for its sixth consecutive year.
Written by Adam Leitenberger
Associate Editor & Digital Media Manager