This Locally Owned Used Car Dealership Makes Things Right
by Melissa LaScaleia
Bill Garofalo is somewhat of a local boy, having spent the majority of his life living in Myrtle Beach where he attended both Socastee High School and Coastal Carolina University. He had always loved cars, and he was eager to begin his career in that field. So in 1988, he left school to work for a Nissan dealership in Georgetown, where he spent the next eight years gaining experience in automotive sales and building a strong clientele in the Georgetown area.
Eager to take what he learned and do things differently, he left to open his own independent used car dealership in Georgetown, Competition Cars. In 2005 he relocated near the Market Common, and today the business is in its 23rd year.
In an industry that often garners consumer mistrust and grumblings rather than accolades and loyal fans, Bill’s pride for what he does and offers the community shows, and sets him apart from many car dealerships. His Facebook page is full of glowing testimonials from satisfied customers, some as far away as Chicago, Canada, and Europe. He has a strong client base, and many long-time patrons continue to drive up from Georgetown to purchase from him.
“As a kid, I was a car guy,” Bill says. “I’ve always had a true passion for them, and I was always able to communicate well with people. This career is such a good fit for me.”
Competition Cars has won the Best Pre-Owned Car Dealer Award by the Myrtle Beach Herald and Carolina Chronicle for the last six years in a row.
In lieu of having a manager, Bill personally handles each deal, and he’s the only one buying cars. Often people call him looking for a particular vehicle, and Bill is able to find them what they want.
“I want to manage the deal because I want to take responsibility to make sure that everything is low pressure, that the deal is done right for me,” he says. “The only time I’m not at work is when I’m on vacation or buying cars. I’m there, it’s my baby.
“I know when someone comes in my door, I have to be different. There are a lot of options out there. If I have a car you want, my goal is to work with you to get to the price point and payment you want, at the pace that feels comfortable for you. Sometimes a customer wants it now, or to take it to a mechanic, or think about it. And that’s always fine. I just like to take the discomfort out of the buying situation by meeting clients where they’re at, to work with them, not against what feels right for them.”
Everybody knows that used cars can have problems, so Bill puts a 3 month, 3,000 mile warranty on every car he sells, which he pays for
himself, unless the car still carries its own factory warranty. Even after the sale, if it’s been under a year and it has a small problem, Bill won’t leave anybody hanging. He is known to help in many ways— to recommend a trustworthy mechanic, even sometimes fixing or servicing your car himself to minimize the cost of repairs.
“If someone has a problem, I’m here to make it right. I’m not here to sell anyone a bad car,” he says. “I’m looking for them to write a thank you letter to show their appreciation that I can hang on my wall. I know that down the road they will come back or refer a friend or relative to me, so my goal is to keep everybody happy to the best of my ability. Supporting community is what helps sustain your business.”
In keeping with that, Bill maintains a generous spirit with adolescents in the community.
“I came to Myrtle Beach when I was a kid and grew up here,” he says. “So it’s important to me that I help the kids in this community by being supportive to their fundraising causes. My doors are always open to them, and I love to help them out in any way that I can, when I can.”