Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hull-Dobbs-Kensinger Ford Agency

At the corner of Third and Gayoso (today the site of the Peabody Place Mall), once stood this automobile dealership which changed the face of the industry. Horace Hull, James "Jimmy" Dobbs, and Chick Kensinger did much to create the style of selling of new and used automobiles by dealers in the past and present. At their Hull-Dobbs-Kensinger Ford Agency in Memphis, they developed a high-pressure selling technique called "The System," also known as "The Drill." Most of today's successful dealers have long abandoned that squeeze-the-consumer sales approach. It started in the 1930s, before the nation was fighting in World War II. New-car customers were as hard to find as new cars during those times. To keep their business going, Hull, Dobbs, and Kensinger figured they had to keep a loyal, motivated sales staff. To do that, they did a seemingly good thing. They turned to profit sharing, allowing their salespeople to retain a share of the profits from every car and truck sold. Today the company is no longer in business under the Dobbs name. The family sold out years ago to a mega dealership.

Source: Shelby County Archives

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