Hot dog Fridays.
Everyone in Ardmore knows about hot dog Fridays at America’s Car-Mart.
“I love hot dog Fridays,” says Travis Martin, General Manager at Car-Mart of Ardmore, Okla. Handing out hot dogs and a cold soda is one of Travis’s favorite things about working at the buy here pay here dealership. “It’s a really good deal!”
“Before COVID, we grilled hotdogs every Friday. I have the best hot dogs in town. The trick is the seasoning,” smiles Travis, while adding that his flavoring is top secret. “Our customers love our hotdogs.”
Travis plans to serve hotdogs again once the pandemic is in our rearview mirror. And, when he does, he’ll have a bigger car lot for those hotdogs – more vehicles, too!
The new Car-Mart lot will feature 100 vehicles, doubling the number of vehicles. And that’s an increase from 15 cars in 2010. “We’ve come a long way in Ardmore,” Travis mentions. “We’re excited to be able to serve more customers with higher quality and a wider selection of vehicles.”
And when customers visit his Car-Mart, they’ll want to have Jason Bamburg, Assistant Manager, sing ‘happy birthday’ to them. The story goes that when Jason applied for a detailed job, Travis asked him to sing the birthday greeting. “When he did, I put him in Sales,” says Travis of Jason who worked his way up to his current position. “If you can sing ‘happy birthday’ to a stranger, you’ll be able to sell cars.”
Additionally, when customers visit Car-Mart, he invites them to visit with him. “They can come to my office and we can talk. We’re on a first-name basis,” says Travis. My customers love that about me. I’ll make time for them.”
“An opportunity presents itself”
“Car-Mart gave me an opportunity and I haven’t looked back,” says Travis, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Norman.
Travis came to Car-Mart via Myspace ten years ago. A childhood friend [Bruce Lynch] had posted a purchasing agent position at Car-Mart on this online social networking site. While Travis wasn’t looking for a job, Bruce and Travis talked about Car-Mart and Bruce convinced Travis to join the Car-Mart team as a Purchasing Agent in Oklahoma City. He quickly broke a few of Bruce’s records and after two years, he was promoted to Regional Purchasing Director.
His first opportunity to be a General Manager was in Ardmore in 2013 before becoming Area Operations Manager where he oversaw six to eight dealerships. After three years, he went back home to Ardmore as General Manager in 2017. In fact, being a GM is his favorite position at Car-Mart.
He’s humbled by the opportunity to help people at Car-Mart. Whether it’s turkey or toy drives or putting people in quality, used vehicles, he works to impact the lives of his customers. “I’m actually able to make a difference in my community and help people. They need Car-Mart, and if they come to Car-Mart needing support and needing a vehicle, I am able to help them,” says Travis, a native of Ardmore.
So, yes, he’s home running his hometown Car-Mart. “It’s rare for Car-Mart’s general managers to run their hometown stores, so it’s amazing,” says Travis. “It’s more prideful. It’s my own town. Go Tigers!”
Travis recalls visiting a customer whom he hadn’t heard from in a while. He went to her house only to discover she had lost her child and her job. Travis helped her stay in her car and provided food to the family. “I like to pay it forward and help those who can’t help themselves,” he says.
Moreover, Travis appreciates Car-Mart’s family atmosphere and a friendly, open, and collaborative workplace. “I can call the CEO right now. He knows my name,” mentions Travis. “That’s profound and that’s Car-Mart.”
Indeed, Travis feels at home working at Car-Mart. “I’m not a number at Car-Mart and I’m not here just to hit a number. There’s more of a sense of company and family – I’m home,” says Travis, while adding the most fun part of the job is buying and driving new cars for his customers.
When, sadly, his grandfather died, the Car-Mart family showered him with support and compassion. “The overwhelming support I received from the company at all levels made me feel like I mattered. It was real. They really cared. That’s when I knew I found a family. I’m home,” Travis says.
Moreover, Travis has enjoyed numerous accomplishments at Car-Mart – like when his dealership hit the top 10 as a GM in back-to-back years, 2019 and 2018. “That’s pretty special,” says Travis.
Indeed, Travis obtained his work ethic from his father who worked in a tire factory for 30 years. When he retired from that job, he continued working by installing alarm systems. “He doesn’t stop. He’s a hard worker, and I learned so much from him,” Travis mentions. “I also learned humility and discipline from my high school football coach.”
He measures his success by helping his customers and his associates achieve their potential. “I take pride in taking care of my people and making sure they stay with Car-Mart,” Travis says.
“Making memories at Disney World”
When he’s not helping people at Car-Mart, he golfs and spends time with his family. Travis and his wife, Rachel, and children, Ethan and Emily, love Disney World.
“That’s our thing. It’s the happiest place on earth and we go once a year,” says Travis. “It’s the sweets and treats and seeing Mickey Mouse. It’s fun to see our children’s happiness and expressions. My daughter is excited about seeing a princess – that’s the most special part of Disney. To them, it’s real and magic, and we’re making memories.”
“Eyes facing forward”
For starters, Travis looks forward to the day when he can serve hotdogs to his customers at his Car-Mart home and help more customers.
“We’re a 39-year old company and we’re invested in the future and making the necessary changes and enhancements to better serve customers. We’re taking the next step to be better than it is today.
I’m excited about that evolution and I will work hard to keep my customers on the road.”
“I love Car-Mart. I love my family, and I owe everything to the Man upstairs,” concludes Travis. “I look forward to 10, 20 more years with Car-Mart.”
If you’re looking for a new ride, check out America’s Car-Mart of Ardmore. Travis and his team are ready to help get you into a quality, used vehicle.
It’s a Car-Mart tradition
When we celebrate a Car-Mart grand re-opening, we invite the community to our grand opening event. We, also, select a charity to be a recipient of assistance from Car-Mart. It’s one of many ways we pay it forward for our customers and communities. This is just the beginning of serving and supporting our neighborhoods. We believe in being good neighbors by giving back and making a positive impact in the places where we live and work.
And it’s our managers who select the local organizations and charitable causes closest to their heart. For Ardmore, Travis and his team will donate $1,000 to Lauren’s Legacy Foundation, an organization that provides college scholarships and educational opportunities to deserving young adults in honor of Lauren Marie Smith who passed away in 2014.