The busiest auto dealerships in L.A. County saw sales of new vehicles tick up a collective 1 percent last year, outperforming the overall local market and national totals based on number of vehicles sold.

The 50 dealers on this week’s Business Journal list combined to sell 155,000 vehicles in 2017. Nearly half – 21 – showed an increase in unit volume last year while 26 saw drops. Two remained flat, and there were no figures for comparison for one of the entries, No. 18 South Bay Toyota in Gardena, which was new to the list.

The biggest dealerships’ slight cumulative gain outpaced the overall Los Angeles County market, which saw new vehicle sales dip 4.7 percent to 512,000, according to data based on registrations.

Sales of new vehicles slipped 1.8 percent national last year to about 17.3 million, according to industry tracker Autodata.

“For the most part, the Los Angeles new car market outperforms the rest of the nation,” said Bob Smith, executive director at the Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealers Association, which represents factory-franchised dealers, and is the source for the county’s dealership sales activity figure. “The top selling county leaders in terms of make were Honda, Toyota, Lexus, Audi, BMW and Mercedes.”

According to the association, dealerships in the county sold an overall 512,000 new vehicles in 2017.

New car sales revenue for the list’s top 50 dealers here grew more than 2 percent to an estimated $7.9 billion from 2016. The totals did not reflect No. 1 ranked Longo Toyota in El Monte, which declined to disclose revenue both years.

Longo Toyota retained the top spot with sales of 15,300 new vehicles in 2017, a 2 percent increase compared to the year before. It did not report revenue figures for either year.

“A lot of people want to see some pixie dust answer, but our success is really quite simple,” said Brendan Harrington, Longo Toyota’s president. “We plan long term, and have kept executing the same plan.”

The company’s 900 employees include speakers of more than 40 languages, Harrington said.

“Part of what has made us successful for years is we truly understand and deliver to our customer base, and that includes having staff that reflects the cultural demographic of L.A.”

He said staff longevity is also a key attraction for its customers, adding that the company has less than 10 percent employee turnover rate.

Those are significant factors that help contribute to revenue, Harrington said, and attributes up to 88 percent of sales revenue at the dealership to referrals and repeat customers.

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