www.YouTube/EarlonCars, public speaking engagements, and my book (Confessions of a Recovering Car Dealer) represent my efforts as a consumer advocate to help you avoid being ripped off by car dealers.
A year ago, a friend called to congratulate me for winning a contest sponsored by Palm Beach County’s newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, as the Best New Car Dealership and the Best Auto Dealer Service Department in Palm Beach County for 2019. I thought she was kidding because I didn’t even know there was a contest! I don’t advertise in the Palm Beach Post. One of my customers, employees or friends must have nominated my dealership in the contest without my knowledge.
2019 was the first year for this contest which was held again for 2020 and Earl Stewart Toyota won again! You may be wondering why I’m bragging about being the best car dealer when this column is supposed to be written by a consumer advocate giving you advice on how to buy, lease, maintain, or repair your car without being taken advantage of. That’s a fair question, and please allow me to answer it.
I really have two goals as a consumer advocate: (1) Equip you with the awareness, caution, and knowledge to protect yourself from being deceived by car dealers and (2) Set an example for car dealers to prove that ethics, honesty, and transparency with their customers is actually good for business.
There are literally dozens of car dealerships in Palm Beach County selling every make of car available. I have only one dealership. I sell new Toyotas which represent only about 15% of the new cars sold. I’m one of four Toyota dealers in Palm Beach County. Palm Beach Toyota, Southern 441 Toyota, and Delray Toyota are the others. Eighty-five percent of the new cars sold in Palm Beach County are sold by those dozens of other car dealerships that sell everything besides Toyota. Many car dealers in Palm Beach County own multiple dealerships…Schumacher, Napleton, and AutoNation for example. For more people to vote for Earl Stewart Toyota than those car dealers with multiple locations, I must have had car owners that don’t even own a Toyota voting for Earl Stewart Toyota.
At this point in this article, I am addressing all the car dealers in Palm Beach County who were not voted number one. I know you must be upset that you lost to me and you might not understand why a car dealer with only one location in a small town like Lake Park, FL (we’re technically in Lake Park but I use North Palm Beach in my name because so few people know where the small town (population 9,000) of Lake Park is. Logic must tell you that for me to win this contest, I must have received votes from other than Toyota owners that I sold. You must wonder why some of your customers must have voted for me. They voted for a Toyota dealer when they buy Hondas or Chevrolets!
Here’s why they voted for my Toyota dealership even though they like the make of car you sell more. (1) I don’t add over a $1,000 in hidden fees (aka dealer fees) to my advertised prices. (2) I don’t add over-priced, dealer-installed accessories to my advertised prices. (3) I post my lowest, out-the-door price on ever new and used car I sell. (4) I offer a 7-day UNCONDITIONAL moneyback guarantee on every new and used car I sell. (5) I don’t hide from my customers. I give every customer my personal cell phone number and have 5 red phoneslocated around my dealership that connect directly to my personal cell phone. Every Earl Stewart employee must adhere to the Earl Stewart Code. Check it out at www.EarlStewartCode.com.a