BALTIMORE -- While car salesmen everywhere struggle to find ways to boost their stagnant business, Kent Loxley and Wayne Sorger take their vehicles directly to the customers' doors.
Instead of sitting around the showroom waiting for customers to come to them, the two salesmen for Bel Air Nissan hit the road several times a week, driving into neighborhoods from the suburban dealership about 20 miles northeast of Baltimore.
One takes a Subaru, the other a Nissan.
After two weeks of door knocking, they haven't sold anything yet. However, they've already declared their experiment a success because they've found people actually like the idea and they're getting more leads on potential sales than they ever could behind a desk.
"People are surprised to see us out there, but they love to tell us stories about service and chat about cars," Loxley said.
That's exactly what Loxley and Sorger do -- chat -- as opposed to the hard-driving pitch that many people face when they enter a showroom.
"Customers told me one of the things they hate to do most is come to a dealership and buy a car. They relate it to going to the dentist," said Sorger.
"We say, 'We're just out here in the area, trying something new and we'd like to get your input on it.' "
Larry Jones, president of the 20-year-old dealership, is enthusiastic about the door to door experiment.
"We think it's a great idea," he said, pointing out that the two salesmen have sold this way before.
Loxley, 41, and Sorger, 40, spent several years selling vacuum cleaners.
"They've made a living door to door so they have no fear of it," Jones said.
Like many innovations in the car business, the inspiration for this one came from the Japanese, who, according to Loxley and Sorger, already are selling door to door successfully.
The area around Bel Air is well suited to the concept, because it has a relatively dense suburban population and nearly everyone has a car, Jones said.
"You have to commute to live here, so they need cars. We don't just have two-car families here, but three and four cars when the kids start," he said.
Loxley and Sorger vary their product line. Some days they take the economy models out. On other days, they pick the top of the line.
When Loxley sold vacuums, he said he averaged one sale for every 60 contacts.
The two knock on about 100 doors every day they go out on the road. They usually pick up about five legitimate prospects, Loxley said.
"A lot will say 'I'm not in the market now, but maybe in August or October.' I take those peoples' names and when they say they're going to be in the market, I'll call them back," Loxley said.
Still, there are skeptics, particularly the other salesmen in the dealership. "I heard from one guy in used car sales," said Sorger. "He said, 'You guys are stirring up a lot of trouble out there.' "
"I think they're afraid of it," said Jones.