Car Dealer Leaves the Dark Side: Concierge Service Alternative to Dealership

Categories: Bidness
Stephen M. Cancila, Managing Partner, Concierge Automotive Services.JPG
Stephen Cancila: Former dealership manager has a new business plan
Take it from this occasional customer: There is nothing less fun than buying a used car.

You may be the kind of no-nonsense shopper who knows what you want and has your checkbook in hand. They're still going to insist on dicking around. And making you dicker. And, ultimately, trying to dick you over.

But one former dealership manager has a way out for car buyers: a personalized concierge service. And, he says, it won't even cost you more than buying from a dealership.

Stephen Cancila's family has long been in the car sales industry. They're the guys behind Marty Cancila Dodge Chrysler Jeep -- they used to also have KIA and Mitsubishi dealerships.
"I got a degree at Missouri State University and then got back into the family business," he explains. "I worked there for twenty years after college, running two separate dealerships for my family." But when the family decided to downsize to just one dealership, Cancila and his brother realized they were both happier being the boss, he says. ("You can't have two chiefs in the tent," he philosophizes.) He decided to move along.

And within months, Cancila found himself musing about a new way to sell cars. He'd long assisted friends and family by helping them decide what kind of car they wanted to get, vetting the options and then purchasing the best one at a used-car auction. Why not provide that service to paying clients who were sick of the car dealership runaround -- and, thanks to the Internet, knew exactly what they wanted?

It's the flip side of the classic dealer-based model, he says, where dealers stock as many cars as they can, and then try to push them on customers, whether or not they're what the buyer is looking for. "There's a lot you don't see going on invisibly at dealerships," he tells Daily RFT. "They'll have meetings: 'We've got these cars, and this one is getting old, so you've got to move it.' You're looking at $15 million worth of pressure from the minute you walk in the door."

His business model turns that around by helping customers track down, and close on, the car they really want. It also has significantly less overhead, because he's only buying cars at auction once he knows he's got a buyer lined up. He declines to tell Daily RFT specifically what his cut is, but Cancila promises that his prices will be equivalent, even with all the one-on-one service. And there's no payment at all until the customer buys the car -- in which case, his fee is part of the sticker price.

Any frustrated car shopper can surely see the appeal. Cancila is pleased to report that without doing a lick of marketing, he's already sold 40 cars since hanging out his shingle in October -- including one to the officer at Pulaski Bank who signed off on an investment in his new company.

So that only left us with one question: How does Cancila's family feel about him giving customers a real alternative to the dealership experience? He only pauses for a second before answering: "My dad, actually, said, 'I hope everything is going great for you.'"

He adds, "Right now I'm just a small fish in a big pond. Yeah, people say, 'You need to franchise this.' No. I've done the 70-hour-a-week thing, the not-seeing-my-family thing. This is a good change of life experience for me."

Casila's business, Concierge Automotive Services. is launching its website later this week. (It'll be at If you need a car now and can't wait, he says he'll happily take an e-mail at

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So is he saying that he and his family have been screwing the public for twenty years but I am now on your side? Good luck with that one.

Your Momma
Your Momma

Right Jdub.

People who sell cars to the public are screwing them. Here's an idea, Jdub, go build your own fucking car... nobody is making you buy one from anyone.

This is a different business model and offers custom service to those in the market for a used car. He is not twisting your arm and forcing you to buy a car... not through this service or the car dealership he ran before.



I'm just reading the article...he actually says that dealers push cars on consumers whether or not that is what they are looking for and you walk into $15 million worth of pressure when you walk in the door. That is what I have a problem with. There are many more good dealers than bad dealers. I found it ironic that his business model is billed as the exact opposite of what he did for twenty years. I think it is actually a good business model, but there are lots of great salespeople out there who would do the same service through the dealership that they work at. I was using his words, not mine. The vast majority of car dealers and sales people are hard working good people and it offends me when people suggest otherwise, which is what is being suggested in the article.

If that makes me a jackoff, then so be it.

Your Momma
Your Momma

When you walk into a Best Buy they aren't going to steer you away from their products to sell you what Target has on their shelves! No shit, Sherlock.

They have a finite amount of inventory, that is what they will try to sell you. They have Millions invested in that inventory, labor, marketing, etc... there is pressure to capitalize on that. This is common sense. If you want what Target is selling then leave and go there, but don't expect them to tell you to, or to give you directions.

You're making him out to be a villain, which is absurd. He is offering a different approach to buying a car, for those that don't like the latter.

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