The Great Trust Famine

There is a serious epidemic going on right now. It has for a long time. Our clients do not trust us.

This scenario recently happened in my office. Let’s break this down:

Client wants to own a $22,000 vehicle. Cool, I have plenty. After beating and getting me in hot water with my boss, we come to terms at $20,000. But you only want to spend $200 a month. Sorry, bud, no bank is going to finance you for 100 months. Oh, you don’t want to finance for eight and a half years? Good! It has to be five years. Guess what, best case scenario is roughly $333 over 60 months. That’s a zero percent interest rate (which we currently are not offering.) But that’s far too much, my client argues. I agree. I work on behalf of my clients.

I explain to my client that if $200 a month is all that is going to work in the budget, then I have the perfect car. It was with the other used cars that cost about $12,000 after taxes and fees.

“Then why is that commercial during the game saying $199 a month?”

This epidemic is on us and our industry as much as it is our clients. The biggest reason being, national advertising routinely offers ridiculous payments that are rarely actually achievable with the finest of print that disappears after a nanosecond. Not only are the payments unrealistic, they tend to gloss over the fact that it is generally a lease payment with Tier 1+ credit (best possible.) Oh, right. And though the ad does mention that the payment does not include any taxes or fees - it’s spoken pretty quietly. And don’t even get me started on how quickly money down is pushed aside.

So what happens when a client in need of a new vehicle sees a car advertised for $199 a month in a commercial during a Sunday Night Football game? He or she is going to show up on Monday expecting a new car for $199 a month. “Wait,” he or she asks, “what do you mean that I need $3000 down and my payment is going to be nearly $250 a month?” The client asks this while walking out of the dealership.

Realistically, national advertising cannot advertise an exact payment. I think both client and dealer know this. There are multiple regions offering different incentives on all of the vehicles offered by a manufacturer. It is something we can counter. As a dealer, please advertise realistically to your local area. People may be confused as to why your advertising is different than that of the national ads, but once they ask, you can educate them.

There needs to be trust between the client and dealership. It starts well before that client actually walks in your door. We live in the information age. Dealer reviews are all over the internet, on all the car sites that our vehicles are listed. But that’s not all. How long has the name on your building been there? How long has the brand you stand behind existed? And are your happy clients advocating you, not just upset clients destroying you? Trust starts with honesty and transparency. Together, we can end the epidemics plaguing our industry and move forward together.

John Mowrey