There are many businesses here in LaGrange and Troup County that are very special from both a business and customer standpoint. Then there are some businesses still that are more; businesses that are connected to the very fiber of the community through history, practice, and dedication to the citizens here. The Mike Patton Auto Family is one such group. Their business model, ethics, and community give back are unprecedented and as such they have become a company that’s more like a family with their customers. Spending one afternoon with Chief Operating Officer Britt Gilmore and Chief Executive Officer/President Chris Patton shows you exactly why Mike Patton is a family more than it is a business.
Gilmore spoke first on the history of Mike Patton. “Patton has been here since 1973. The dad [Mike] started the business. At one time Mike Patton owned probably twenty plus stores here, [in] Opelika, Newnan, and South Carolina. There are these three stores left here now. It’s a three generation business. Mike’s father was the founder; he started over in South Carolina. Mike started here with the Mazda store in 73’. We’re very proud to say we are a Christian organization and proud of it. We treat our employees and customers with respect, we treat them like we want to be treated; it’s just a great place to work and do business.
Today, Mike’s three sons all work at the business. Chris is the President/CEO, Brian the Vice President/ Owner, and David the Inventory/ Recon Manager. At the Mike Patton Auto Family stores, you will find the best selection of products, services, and accessories that anyone could hope to find. Gilmore spoke at length of all the different options offered at Mike Patton. “Well of course we have new Fords, Lincolns, Hondas, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, and any kind of used car, truck or SUV you would ever want to buy. If they make it, we can get it, we will find it, we will buy it for you and we make sure that it’s worthy. In our shop, we safety inspect everything we sell, we go through our vehicles with a fine tooth comb, and we don’t sell any vehicle here with issues. We try to put things out here that are worthy for everybody. I don’t want to sell a vehicle to anybody that I wouldn’t sell to my mom. It’s not good business.” At Mike Patton, there won’t be any hidden fees or last minute additions to your quoted price and all of their employees will make the car buying process as simple and easy as possible. There is a fair price on every vehicle on the lot. Our service and parts departments are staffed with factory certified technicians; believe you me folks, it makes a huge difference!
The thing that truly separates Mike Patton from a business to a family is the many different ways that they find to give back and support the community, as Gilmore explained. “Every time we do a car wash [such as] Lafayette Christian, Troup County, La-Grange High, Faith Baptist Church, and whoever we schedule them for, we’ll [provide] the supplies and the place to do it. For every car we wash, just say we wash a hundred cars, we donated $10 to the charity which is $1,000 on top of whatever they make. On top of everything we do, at the end of the month if we made a dollar, Chris and Brian Patton will give 10% of that to charities. Chris and Brian will never tell you that. Another thing is that our sales people aren’t on commission, they’re on salary. They don’t take a customer and see dollar signs on that customer and try and lead them to a vehicle that that they make the most money on. We want the vehicle to be what best fits that customers needs. We offer an extended warranty on everything you buy that qualifies for one.”
Chris Patton, CEO and President of the Mike Patton Auto Family, had some thoughts to share on his family’s business and how they treat each customer. “Our name, Mike Patton, is obviously named after my father but it’s the auto family we refer to. That is intentional because frankly we have to protect that because we have vendors/advertising people that wants to call us the Mike Patton Auto Group or Mike Patton Automotive; but we make sure to keep adding family on there. We want our employees, everyone that comes to work here, to feel like this is a family. [This makes] our customers feel the same way. We want our pricing system, the way we sell cars is the way we handle family. Everybody [gets the family price]. We want everyone to have a very clean, simple buying experience where not only do they feel like there are no games, but there is no frustration when they come to buy. If there is one thing I want a customer to know it’s that if they shop, buy, service, or interact with us, they feel like they have done it with family and that they were taken care of as if they were family.”
Patton also touched on the company’s desire to give back to the community through charity and other services. “We give back for various reasons. There are business reasons that giving back to the community in which you operate as a business is just smart business. Any [charity] that people see Mike Patton Auto Family, they think that’s where I want to do business. But we also do a lot that nobody knows about. For us, our mission statement is the answer to the question why does your business exist? The reason we have not sold our business, cashed out, put it in the bank, and lived off interest is that we use the business to honor God by impacting the lives of our employees, customers, and community. We feel like, as a member of the community, we are a part of the family, and so when we hear about people in need, organizations in need, things that are going on that shouldn’t [be] in this community and things that should go on but aren’t, we see it as a way where we want to reach out and do something because we can. It’s [all] part of honoring God, part of our responsibility, and it comes with the privilege of having the business to be able to turn around and help those out that can’t.”
That afternoon, and really on any given afternoon, you could walk into the Mike Patton Auto Family store and see a COO, a CEO, and essentially everyone that works there, even in the highest of management positions, be able to walk from store to store and know their employees by name, know the members of their families, and see genuine care and affection for one another. Gilmore traveled to all three stores that afternoon, shaking hands, hugging, and posing for pictures with well over twenty five employees, knowing full well that he knows all of their names. Mike Patton Auto Family is truly a family and they extend that same friendship to every customer that walks through the door, be it a new customer that wants to buy or a returning customer for repairs in the shop. Yes, the Mike Patton Auto Family wants to sell you your next car and they will do so with friendship, kindness and a fair deal. It is this attitude, this respect for man and God, and this spirit of camaraderie that makes Mike Patton Auto Family and not just another dealership. #abetterplacetobuy!