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Archive for the ‘My Car Buddy’ Category

Now that I am on the other side of the desk, I can clearly understand what people hate about the process of buying a vehicle from a car dealership. A little background… I was in the car business for 15 years – sales and finance. I have always worked in highline carlines and never worked at a dealership that didn’t stress customer service, honesty, integrity and professionalism. Now I own a company that goes out and buys cars for people who are intimidated by the process or just don’t have the time. It is now clear to me why I get clients. You would think that with everything going on in the car business and the economy that there would be some kind of change in the way dealers do business. I know the movie “The Goods” is coming out, but that is supposed to be a parody, not how the business operates now! I still can’t believe that a dealer can get away with things like non-refundable deposits, treating perspective customers like they need the dealer more than the dealer needs them and just general, shady ways of doing business. And professionalism? Courtesy? Respect? Integrity? Pretty much out the window… I try to go to at least 3 or 4 different dealerships for my clients and in most cases, I am lucky if 1 of them actually returns my call. Truly shocking… Even more shocking is that the owners actually allow this to happen. How much business is being lost? It is a total shame but change has to come. It can not continue this way much longer. Soon you will be able to buy a car at Wallmart and on Ebay. Just think, all of those crappy car salesmen are gonna be selling you insurance, home improvements and real estate. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
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Cash For Clunkers?

I actually had a My Car Buddy client this week who just about qualified for this (interesting) new program. Here’s the details: His trade in was a 2001 Dodge Durango with 92,000 miles. Easily qualifies as a gas guzzling behemoth and falls well within the mpg limits. I managed to get him $3900 and with the tax savings it almost was a wash and not worth the extra paperwork. My question is… Is this really gonna stimulate car sales? Even if all it does is getting people to talk about it, I think it will help. I have had people ask about this program but after looking into it, the parameters are very limited. I think they should have gotten a little more creative with it and actually,because it is a government program, you knew it would not be very well thought out. On a side note… Infiniti announced 0% APR and lease deals on their entire line up (minus the new G37 convertible – hot!). Not only do I think this will stimulate some sales, but I will be promoting it to my clients. Great cars and awesome deals! That is how you stimulate the economy! Unfortunately, this is all because their sales are down. Meanwhile, according to my old contacts at Audi, sales are up and my old dealership is running out of cars to sell. What the heck is happening here? Is the economy on the up tick? Only time will tell.

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The car business has been the lead story of the news for quite some time now. All of the bailouts, restructuring and reorganizing that is at the manufacturer level, but more of the problems with the car business still rest with the business at the dealership level. You know, the part that consumers interact with on a daily basis! Since all of this change is eminent, why not go all out and fix what has become common place, but ridiculous and really needs to change. What I’m talking about is the dealer experience and the car salesman.

Let me start by saying that I was a car salesman for many years, and finished my time in the business as a finance manager. I have been there, done that, I get it and I know what goes on. Over time though, I took some things for granted and forgot how the things we did affected the people who gave us our pay check – the customer. Here’s my take on what the problem is:

You can go into just about any retail establishment like Walmart, a sporting goods store, a clothing store, shoe store, cell phone store etc… and 9 out of ten times you will get a salesperson who is fair, helpful and above all, at least somewhat professional. Now there is also a chance that you will run into someone who is having a bad day, it happens. Go into a car dealership, and those odds are out the window! I will conservatively say that you have a 50/50 chance of running into a salesperson who is for starters professional, much less helpful and not rude.

After all of those years on the inside of the business, now I am on the other side working for the consumer as a personal auto shopper. I spend a lot of time calling and emailing dealerships and salespeople but more than just the ones I know and have a relationship with. My oh my, what an eye opening experience this has been! How is it possible that you can go to a car dealership and be treated rudely, unprofessionally and even blown off? It has happened to me more than once lately and at more than one dealership. Are they selling so many cars that they don’t need basic customer service skills? I don’t think so. The system is flawed and change really needs to happen. I am gonna pick on another business to make a point. Take real estate professionals for instance. Basically, they are almost the same type of salespeople but are regarded as more professional than the other and is looked at in a (somewhat) different way. To be a real estate professional, you need to be sponsored and have to take classes, pass a test and become licensed. There is some form of regulation and consistent training here. To become a car salesman, you need nothing! No education, no training, no monitoring, no real regulation of any kind. Basically, anyone can walk in and get hired and you need no qualifications or experience. You can also make a good amount of money, which breeds a less than desirable employee. Car dealerships hire and fire car salespeople regularly as they are low cost employees and are easily replaced. Only the better dealerships retain salespeople for long periods of time (looking for a good dealer, find one that has long time salespeople). I was pretty successful at my time in sales but not because I am God’s gift to sales. I just did what a normal, average hard working person would do to provide basic good customer service and I acted professionally and courteously to each and every perspective client I met. Ironically, that allowed me achieve lofty sales goals and was nationally recognized for great customer service. By putting forth just a little bit of effort, I was by far superior than most of the come and go salespeople I worked with. It worked out for me, but what about the customers who were not my clients?

That’s what I think is wrong. How do we change it? Does anybody really care if it changes at this point? How can a business survive year after year treating clients this way? Any other type of business would surely have failed long ago had they modeled their business plan after the way car dealerships do. Knowing reputations of specific dealers from people who worked there and constant input from customers over the years, it marvels me that some places even have customers. Oh, but they do…

There really needs to be some sort of training process, schooling, regulation and licensing that is very consistent, at least on a statewide basis to establish a new, higher bar for the professional salesperson in the automotive business. This would help weed out some of the bad seeds early on and over time, bring some professionalism that every other business provides to the general car buying public. Just like what is going on with the manufacturers – you knew it was coming, it had to happen, it will be painful at first but it will be better in the end. The dealership experience and the car salesman will have to change and it only seems that this is the next step and only makes sense. We let too many things continue even though we know it’s wrong. The sooner it is fixed, the better off we will be. Wish I had the time and the money to change it but all we can do is wait for it to happen. In the meantime, I will continue to help clients beat the salesperson and try to make the car buying process painless, one client at a time.

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You have heard it a hundred times and it has never had more meaning than right now. There truly is never going to be a better time to buy a new car than right now. Less dealers = less competition = higher prices. Don’t think that if you buy imports that things will not effect them either. When the dust settles in the next year or so, domestic car prices are going to go up and the deals are going to dry up. The days of 3 Chevy dealerships within 20 minutes driving distance is going away. Most consumers use that as a crutch to get a better deal. Now it will be more like the imports where competitive dealerships will not be as geographically saturated and the consumer will be less likely to travel further for a deal. With prices going up on domestics, imports will raise their prices to stay in line, which in the short run will make an already superior product, better. And let’s not forget the fact that all of this bailout money and bankruptcy losses have to be made up by profit. Easiest way to get a bigger profit? Cut costs (in process) and raise prices. What drives deals? Competition, too much inventory, slow sales. The competition is dwindling, your neighbors are taking advantage of all the deals right now and when it rebounds, the entire process will be revamped. If you have the means, or are remotely in the market for a car, import or domestic, don’t put it off. The next time you buy a car after things change will not be anything like you are used to and the days of leasing a luxury car for $399 is going by the wayside. It had to happen and it will be painful today, but in the long run, restructuring the domestic manufacturers, who have been poorly managed for at least a quarter century, is for the better. Don’t care if anyone disagrees, it’s the truth…
In the meantime, hire us to get you the best deal during these very opportunistic times – Happy Motoring!

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Having been in the car business most of my adult life, the questions asked here were a part of almost every deal. If you are heading to a dealership and are intent on buying a car, read this first along with all of your other research. If you still feel intimidated, check out this website and see if we can help making your next car purchase stress free.

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I went to a new type of networking function the other day called SNAP -“Super Networking Accelerated Program”. I call it speed networking. You basically give one minute pitches of yourself, your product, service or business to a very concentrated audience. It works amazingly well. Here’s how it goes: Every table has the same number of people and every person gets a number. The person who is number 1 stands up and has one minute to pitch to the other people at the table. You state your name and your business or reason for being there (advertising your business, looking for a job etc…). After your pitch you ask anyone at the table if they can help or would like more information. If they are interested or can help, you give them your card and you can hook up later. You only give out your card to people who show interest and you only ask for their card if you are going to follow up. Then you move to the next table until every table in the room has heard the pitch. Then person number 2 goes etc… I was amazed at how quickly it went and how interesting it was to hear people present themselves and their business. It was by far the most effective way of networking I have ever been to and I only passed out cards to people who wanted to know more about my business. It was organized thru LinkedIn and was publicized organically thru word of mouth. I will assuredly be organizing one of these types of events in the very near future. Stay tuned…

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