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Power of prayer drives Manteca Ford

Waterford credits faith, doing right thing with helping sales

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Power of prayer drives Manteca Ford

Manteca Ford Mercury owner Phil Waterford takes a moment to pray with his sales staff – something he believes helped his business succeed through hard times.


POSTED December 18, 2008 9:32 p.m.
Phil Waterford wasn’t in a very good place when he agreed to join another local car dealer for an afternoon out at a Modesto hang out.
With his business taking a pounding from the weak economy and the growing number of families without disposable income – subjected to foreclosures and rising home rates – the outlook for his Manteca Ford Mercury dealership was bleak.
But it was at that bar that Waterford had an unexpected run-in with a stranger that would leave a lasting impression on him and help give him a new outlook on how to approach what was his biggest business challenge to date.
“He held his hand out as we were getting ready leave, and he looked me straight in the face and said ‘Don’t concern yourself with the trivial things – you are a man of gold,’” Waterford said. “When I talked to my Mother and told her the story, she reminded me that people used to tell me when I was a kid that I would be gold when I got older.
“It just seemed like more than a coincidence.”
And while other dealerships in the area are struggling to keep their doors open, Waterford managed to improve his overall sales numbers from a year ago despite the lagging economy. It was something he credits to an outstanding sales staff that treats the people who walk through the door the way they want to be treated.
He also credits a higher power.
After a particularly rough Saturday on the lot when not even a tumbleweed made its way into the parking lot, Waterford gathered his employees – all of whom receive medical, dental, and vision insurance as well as profit-sharing options and a 401k – and prayed together asking God to let them weather the hard times.
During the talk that ensued which included the mention of fear, Waterford developed the acronym False Evidence Appearing Real for the common feeling, and began to set the positive tone that would quickly spread throughout the dealership.
Less than a day later, he had a customer come in with a story that helped him reinforce his belief in divine intervention.
“The next day I had a guy come up to me and say, ‘Mr. Waterford, you had a first-time buyers program and even though I didn’t have any credit at the time you offered me a car at 5.9 percent,’” he said. “Now that I’ve got a family, when I thought of where I should go, this is the first place that came to mind.”
The exchange was one that Waterford will never forget.
“I told our employees that we weren’t going to compromise how we do business here, and that we were going to conduct business the way we always have,” Waterford said. “Dignity and respect goes a long way with people, and I wanted to be able to have the peace-of-mind that comes from conducting business in a fair and ethical manner – not something that everybody was doing when the market started to turn bad.”
Just last weekend Waterford attended a Ford Motor Credit event in Las Vegas with his Finance expert. He was pleased when the corporate suits were trying to figure out why even though almost every other dealership in the Sacramento region was sinking, his numbers had gone up.
The combination of prayer and conducting business in a fair and open environment, he said, was all that it took.
“With everything that’s going on, it’s good to hear something like that from somebody – that what you’re doing is working,” Waterford said. “When we all got together and prayed, we didn’t ask God to let us sell a lot of cars or make a lot of money, but just sustain our business.
“Fortunately that’s what we’ve been able to do, and hopefully that’s something that stays that way for some time to come.”
And he doesn’t want his story to be an exclusive one either.
With the turmoil surrounding the financial and housing markets, Waterford wants people that might find themselves down to know that sometimes if they ask for help from something greater than themselves, they just might receive it.
“Hope is something that is universal, and is something that everybody should share,” Waterford said. “Regardless of where you might be at the time, having faith in the Lord is something that can help you get through anything.”
Phil Waterford’s Manteca Ford Mercury is located at 555 N. Main Street. The dealership recently mailed out 10,000 circulars to area residents with contest numbers listed that qualify them for one of four prizes – a 2009 Ford Escape, an Xbox 360, a 42-inch flat screen TV, or a $450 gas voucher. No purchase is necessary to win, but the winning number must be presented in person. For more information, call 239-3561.

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