Walking into the Ted Britt Ford dealership in Chantilly these days is like entering a Christmas workshop — all the cars are painted white, adorned with huge red bows as if shipped directly from the North Pole by Santa himself.
Of course, the vehicles haven’t been made by Kris Kringle, but by the Ford Motor Company which is still headquartered in Dearborn, Mich., a suburb of Detroit. But the practice of dressing white cars with red ribbons during the holidays is a longtime tradition that is being carried out by a third generation of the Britt family that runs the dealership.
“It’s just something that we’ve always done, to put red ribbons on the cars at Christmas,” said M. Gardner Britt III (or just “G3”) head of the Chantilly operation, in interview last week with Patch at the dealership.
“Family and holidays are really big with us,” he said.
A couple things to know about the dealership and the Britt family:
- The name “Ted” Britt was a nickname, despite years of radio and television advertising that promoted the name. The man behind the name was M. Gardner Britt, born in Junction, Texas (about 100 miles west of San Antonio) who moved to Fairfax and opened his first dealership, “Texas” Ted Britt Ford, in Fairfax in 1959. “Ted” Britt died in 1996.
- The Ted Britt dealerships (there are locations in Chantilly, Fairfax and Sterling) are a family operation. M. Gardner Britt, Jr., Ted’s son, still runs the Fairfax operation with grandson Britt III in Chantilly and many family members spread though all levels. Overall, the dealerships employ about 400.
- Britt, Jr., did not push any of his seven sons into the car business.
“My dad didn’t want us to go into the family business,” Britt III said. “He told us to go out and find something else to do. We could always fall back into the car business if we had to.”
Britt III, 34, the oldest, complied and got a degree in advertising and communications from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Selling cars as a career wasn’t a priority, but he was drawn back to the business because he liked working around his dad and the rest of the family.
“I’ve never been a big car guy,” Britt III said. “I don’t have a fancy car to drive home. I just drive whatever the shop puts gas into at the end of the day.”
Gregarious and blessed with a sunny disposition, Britt III seems to be a natural-born salesman. “In any kind of sales, at the end of the day you are really just selling yourself," he said. "And, I’m a big process person. You set up goals and get things done.”
Britt III’s approach seems to be working. Last month the dealership sold the second-most number of cars of any Ford dealer in the nation, about 400. They are looking to match that pace this month, with an anticipated crush of sales after Christmas.
“We are a people business,” Britt III said. “We have the best customers and vehicles that people really like. We know that people can buy cars anywhere, but we stress our customer services and that we will make deals that nobody else in the business will make.”
You can keep up with Ted Britt Ford Lincoln Chantilly on their Facebook page.
Recommend a local business for a Patch profile: MaryAnn.Barton@Patch.com