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Monday, December 19, 2022

Don’t be “Rip van Winkle” When You Buy Your Next Car

Marketing experts know that consumers see or hear only advertisements for products that they might consider buying. For example, if you were recently gifted the perfect microwave oven for your birthday, you wouldn’t notice, much less look for, advertisements for microwave ovens. The same psychological principal applies to reading news articles about products that you don’t have an interest in buying. There may be a surplus, over-supply of microwave ovens or a severe shortage, but if you just bought or were given a microwave oven, you “don’t see” those articles.
Just in case you’ve never read or heard about the legend of Rip van Winkle who lived in the Catskill Mountains, he fell asleep for 20 years. When he awoke, he thought he’s just slept through the night. I’m guessing his 6-foot-long beard led him to wonder what had happened!
I’m a car dealer and have been one since 1968. I live, sleep, eat, and breathe cars. My dealership is family owned and operated and my three sons and wife, also immersed in the retail car business, regularly get calls from “Rip van Winkles” about buying their next cars. The typical assumption from these car buyers who have been out of the market (asleep) for 3 or more years is that they’d like to come to my dealership and pick out the right new or used cars from my very large, nearly 1,000 vehicle inventory.
These “Winkles” want to buy their next new or used car immediately and are very specific what year-make-model, exterior and interior color, options and accessories they would like. They also intend to shop and compare my price (especially those that are educated consumers) with my competition. Of course, I and my family members and managers explain the “upside down” auto retail and manufacturing markets existing for nearly 3 years. Demand soared, supply plummeted, and prices ran up and off-the-chart. Before Rip van Winkle dozed off, cars were sold for thousands of dollars less than today and the selection was huge.
The danger to these “Winkles” is that most car dealers and manufacturers are pretending as if these exorbitantly high prices and virtually nonexistent inventories aren’t real. The advertising you see from car dealers and manufacturers continues just like it was 2019, not 2022…big sales, discounts, huge inventories, etc. How and why the FTC and state Attorney Generals allow them to get away with this is fodder for another column. In plain English, the dealers and auto manufacturers are lying to their potential customers. An honest car ad today would read, TODAY IS A BAD TIME TO BUY A NEW OR USED CAR. You and I both understand why we don’t see too many honest ads like this.
As I’ve said often before, don’t buy a new or used car now unless you must. If you must, shop around for the lowest price which won’t be below MSRP, especially when you spot the hidden, junk fees and dealer installed accessories. Your selection will be very limited and you’ll have to make many compromises on color, options, and probably models. Your waiting time will likely be months. Rip, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, because I know the truth hurts.

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