Frank Kent Honda switching to no-haggle pricing

Posted Thursday, Oct. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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After more than 20 years of negotiating sales of cars at Frank Kent Honda in Fort Worth, owners Will Churchill and Corrie Watson have gone to “haggle-free” pricing. The set price will now be clearly marked on cars.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Watson said.

Frank Kent car dealerships have always focused on putting the customer first, Watson said, and eliminating the pressure of negotiating a price and dealing with a commission-based salesperson is the best step to do that. Most people don’t enjoy car shopping for that very reason, she said.

Sales of new Hondas under the new pricing policy began Oct. 1, and Sept. 1 on used cars. Watson said she and her brother, and their general manager, visited other dealerships in Texas that offer haggle-free pricing to see how it worked to help in their decision. What they saw was “wonderful,” Watson said.

“It made all the sense in the world,” Watson said of the decision. “It’s all about finding the right car to meet wants, needs and a budget. This is all about being customer centric. It makes it very relaxing for the customer.”

The time involved in buying a car is greatly reduced as a result. On average, it takes six to seven hours to buy a car through the negotiation process. Now, its 11/2 hours to two hours, she said.

Frank Kent Motors opened in 1935. It has been selling Hondas since 1992.

How a blizzard brought Fidelity to Texas

Abigail P. Johnson, the president of Fidelity Investments, paid a visit to the financial service company’s woodsy Westlake campus on Monday to help mark Fidelity’s 30th anniversary in Texas.

In her remarks to employees, she recounted the story of how Fidelity came to Texas. It starts with a blizzard in Boston.

In early February 1978, a massive snowstorm hit New England, dumping over 27 inches of snow on Boston. Businesses across the city shut down, and at Fidelity — the big mutual fund company — there was no one to answer the phones and help customers.

“But you know our Chairman,” Johnson said, referring to her father, Edward C. Johnson III. “He wasn’t going to be stopped by something like four feet of snow. So he made his way into work — on cross-country skis — and answered the phones himself.”

After the storm, Fidelity executives decided that skiing to work to stay open during bad weather wasn’t a sustainable business model. So the company set out to diversity its operations geographically, and opened its first office in Texas.

Since 1983, Fidelity has grown from 50 employees in Las Colinas to more than 5,000 in North Texas. Today, more than 4,500 work at the 337-acre campus, which opened in 2001 on the former Circle T Ranch. The stafff includes about 1,700 who answer the phones day and night, assisting investors and retirement planning customers.

Except for the occasional ice storm, they don’t have to sweat any wintry shutdowns.

—Steve Kaskovich

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