Friday, December 20, 2019

2020 New Year’s Resolutions for Florida Car Dealers

This blog is addressed to Florida’s car dealers, as well as those in the other 49 states. I don’t expect most of you to take these suggested resolutions in the spirit in which they’re intended, but I hope some of you will.

I’m a car dealer and I’ve been in business longer that most of you, since 1968. I began as a Pontiac dealer in West Palm Beach, and I did business back then just about the same way you do business today. I advertised cars for less than I knew I could, or would, sell them for. I added hidden fees to the prices I quoted my customers. I added overpriced accessories to my cars like undercoating and paint sealant. I negotiated the highest prices I could with those least capable of understanding how to get the best price. I even rewarded my salesmen when they made a profit of $4,000 or more on some unsuspecting, defenseless customer…a $500 bonus in addition to a $1,000 commission and his name on our revered SLAM DUNK BOARD. Bear in mind that I would also sell cars to smart, sophisticated negotiators for $100 profit of even less. This way of selling cars is unfair, immoral, and unethical. It took me a long time to figure this out.

When the Internet and World Wide Web became a reality in 1990, who could have guessed that it would change the world more than any invention in the past. What has transpired from this spark at the end of the 20th century, is the KNOWLEDGE EXPL0SION of the 21st century. With Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Quantum Computing giving us tools like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix, the sum-total of human knowledge is doubling in less than every 12 hours. I was born in 1940 when human knowledge was estimated to be doubling every 12 years. The bottom line is that everybody is getting a lot smarter, especially the consumer. If car dealers want to survive, you must begin dealing intelligently with their customers. Before you know it, you won’t have any more customers you can deceive into buying cars they don’t want and paying higher prices than they should. 

1. Display your lowest price on every new and used vehicle you sell.

2. Add no hidden, bogus fees to your quoted or advertised price.

3. Never pre-install dealer accessories to your vehicles, especially if they’re not included in the advertised or quoted price.

4. Don’t deprive your prospective customers of their American, inalienable right to shop and compare your lowest price with the competition. Capitalism, competition, and the free market place are American attributes which make our country the greatest on the Planet.

5. Do not switch a customer that wants to buy a car to leasing because you can make a lot more money leasing. If leasing is the best alternative for your customer, your profit should be equal on the buy or the lease.

6. If your customer wants to finance his car with you, offer him a fair, competitive interest rate. Offer to sell him “products” like extended warranties, maintenance contracts, GAP insurance, road hazard insurance, and emergency road service only with thorough disclosure of real cost and benefits. Never add anything to the finance contract that the customer does not know about or understand. Never say or imply that the lender requires that he buy an extended warranty or any other product.

7. Never sell a used vehicle with an unfixed dangerous recall. Most car dealers are doing this today, wantonly, and in most cases not even disclosing the recall. Some of these recalls have no fix available.

8. Never display conditions that increase the real price of the advertised vehicle in the unreadable fine print of your advertisements. All car dealers do this and so do their manufacturers. Where is the honesty and transparency in advertising a new car that you can supposedly lease for $299 per month when the unreadable fine print requires a $5,000 down payment?

9. Don’t falsely give hope to prospective customers with bad credit by understating the conditions that they must meet to obtain financing. For example: “ANY CREDIT APPLICATION ACCEPTED” or “WE FINANCE GOOD PEOPLE WITH BAD CREDIT”.

10. Don’t trick customers into believing that you will pay off all the money owed on their current purchased or leased car and sell or lease them a new one…” WE’LL PAY OFF THE MONEY YOU OWE ON YOUR PRESENT CAR, NO MATTER HOW MUCH IT IS”. More and more car drivers owe more on their cars than they’re worth…often many thousands of dollars. You’re tricking them into thinking you are paying off their old loans, when the truth is, you’re adding what you paid the bank to the price of the new car you sell or lease them.

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