Barry Jackson
Barry Jackson, general manager of Sandy Springs Toyota, discusses how the Internet has effected car sales, how his company weathered the recent economic downturn, and what vehicles will be in demand in the future.

The Jackson family, owners of Sandy Springs Ford and Sandy Springs Toyota, has been selling cars in the Perimeter market since 1976. In the 1990s, Barry Jackson was in college, studying to be a teacher when a summer job selling cars at his father’s Lincoln-Mercury dealership convinced him to pursue the family business. He’s now general manager of the family’s Toyota dealership. Reporter Newspapers asked him about how the car business has changed in the Perimeter.

Q. How much does location matter when it comes to selling cars, particularly now when people can buy cars online?

A. It matters. That’s very important, because even though a customer might do their research online, they always want to come to the dealership and drive the car, take a look at the car. We are centrally located, so that’s always helped us. We’re in a good location as far as being close to all the different suburbs.

Q. Is the Perimeter market different than markets elsewhere? How?

A. Well, I would say the main difference would be a lot of people work in this area, and we have a lot of people who come into the dealership who work at Perimeter Mall or maybe they work in Buckhead. Say if you live in Cumming, Ga., nobody really works up in that area. They come down to the city. We get not only people who live in the area but people who work in the area.

Q. How is your business doing now compared to when the recession began?

A. We’re doing fine. When the recession hit, it was a pretty quick downturn as far as our sales were concerned. Gradually, it has risen close to where we were in 2008 and before. It hasn’t gotten quite to that level yet. All in all, I would say our business is good right now. We have, even when our sales have slumped in the past, we have a real big service operation so if a customer is not buying a car, he still has to get his car serviced. So that has helped us through the different downturns we have experienced in the past.

Q. Where do you see the car business in the next 10 years?

A. With the fluctuation of gas prices, it seems there’s a big push toward hybrid cars. Those cars are in high demand, especially as the technology has gotten more affordable nowadays. With gas prices and such, I would say that in the future good gas-mileage cars will be what people want.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.