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2013 Best Luxury Car Dealer: Smothers European

Author: Karen Hart
May, 2013 Issue

“Our goal is fix it right the first time. We have great employees in the service department.” —Jerry Reid

If you’ve ever been in the market for a luxury car, chances are you’ve stopped at Smothers European, located on Santa Rosa’s Auto Row. Smothers has been selling and servicing cars in Sonoma County for more than 30 years. Not only does the dealership repeatedly win Best Luxury Car Dealer by NorthBay biz readers, it received the prestigious Mercedes-Benz Best of the Best Dealer Recognition Award in February, based on its outstanding performance in 2012.
The Smothers European story began in 1982 when the family purchased a Volvo franchise (it had previously been an independent Volkswagen repair and Alfa Romeo dealer in the 1970s). Ten years later, it purchased a Mercedes-Benz franchise and, in 2011, it became a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter commercial van franchise, which includes commercial cargo vans, passenger vans and buses. Last year, Smothers became an AMG Performance Center for high-performance cars.
What’s the secret to its success?
“It’s always about the great people we have on staff,” says Jerry Reid, president and general manager of Smothers European.  He attributes the company’s success to a combination of tradition and excellent service. “We’re a third-generation business. It’s the continuation of the Smothers way of doing business, and the newcomers are helping make it happen.” Smothers has about 80 employees on staff, and many of them have more than 20 years of experience.
In addition to its staff, Smothers is committed to taking care of customers¾whether it’s on the showroom floor or going on a service drive to diagnose a problem. Smothers has also won service awards from both Volvo and Mercedes-Benz. “Our goal is to fix it right the first time. We have great employees in the service department,” says Reid.
So what’s new and exciting in the auto industry these days? Fuel economy and new types of fuels are key factors on the horizon for the next generation of cars, according to John White, sales manager, partner and vice president of operations.
In addition, Mercedes-Benz will launch 14 new model cars over the next two years. A new modelthe Mercedes-Benz CLAwill go on sale in September for less than $30,000 to attract younger buyers.
Volvo, on the other hand, is refreshing the front ends and interiors of four models, which will hit the auto room floor in June. Watch for changes to the Volvo S80, S60, X60 and XC70.
The most luxurious model on the showroom floor at Smothers now is the SLS Gullwing, with a price that starts at $250,000. “We get one at a time, and we’ve been selling all we get,” says Reid. But the most popular models with customers include the Mercedes-Benz C-class four-door sedan, the E-Class midsize sedan and the Mercedes-Benz GL, which was recently recognized by Motor Trend as SUV of the year. The Volvo S60 and XC60 also continue to be popular models among Smothers customers.
What’s it like to win Best Luxury Car Dealer year after year? “We thank the people of Sonoma County. We have a loyal following,” says Reid.
“It’s nice to have our hard work and commitment to customer service validated by our clients,” adds White.



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