By on May 23, 2017

JM Lexus Margate Florida - Image: Lexus.com

Half an hour from Fort Lauderdale, in Margate, Florida, sits JM Lexus, the highest-volume Lexus dealership in the United States.

Even by Lexus standards, where throughput is the best of any premium automaker operating in America, JM Lexus’ 8,000-unit new vehicle sales tally in 2016 was striking. That’s more than 150 new luxury cars, crossovers, and SUVs sold each week. That’s roughly six times the volume achieved by the typical Lexus dealer.

And JM Lexus, perennially the top Lexus dealer in America, does so as part of the Lexus Plus strategy: no negotiating, a single representative per customer, fixed prices for new and used cars as well as service fees and accessories.

Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned by Lexus’ other dealers. For the time being, according to Automotive News, only 5 percent of Toyota’s premium brand stores operate under the Lexus Plus model. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

image: Michael Sheehan AutoNation 2014

At least twenty upper-echelon executives have left AutoNation since the start of 2014, with the vast majority bailing within two years. Short stints with an employer and lackluster job stability may be the norm for bottom-rung millennials but senior managers with years of experience have a tendency to stick around a while.

That doesn’t necessarily mean there is something sinisterly “up” with the largest automotive retailer in the United States, but it does leave you wondering about its future. This concern was heightened after AutoNation’s chief operating officer, Bill Berman, suddenly resigned last week, not even four months after being named president.  (Read More…)

By on May 10, 2017

Sales situation in a car dealership, the dealer is handing auto keys to a young couple, they are excited, cars standing in the background, Image: Kzenon/Bigstock.com

You’re all too familiar with that image, aren’t you? She’s laughing hysterically or having some sort of crisis.  Her male friend, hand outstretched to receive his car key, looks on in amazement at her awkward and overblown reaction within this sales situation. They are The Couple, and they are stock image gold.

Want more of them? You got it.

(Read More…)

By on January 23, 2017

Walmart

With the exception of funeral services and stylish clothing, practically anything can be purchased at your local Walmart. Well, that list now includes automobiles. North America’s largest retailer is edging is way into automotive sales with the help of the nation’s largest new-car dealership franchise, AutoNation.

Launching in April, Walmart’s CarSaver program will make it the perfect middleman for impulse car buyers and local dealerships. CarSaver is designed to allow shoppers to browse, select, finance, and insure a vehicle through its website or at kiosks positioned in outside of the nail salons and vision centers of twenty-five Walmart Supercenters. (Read More…)

By on October 24, 2016

fusion-hybrid-window-sticker

It was called The Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958 and it was sponsored by Almer Stillwell Monroney, the Senator from Oklahoma who preferred the colloquial nickname “Mike” and whose other legislative priority in 1958 was to create the FAA.

We owe Mike Monroney a lot. He was from that long-discredited and long-forgotten breed of old privileged men who believed there was such a thing as the public interest and that they had a genuine duty to act in that public interest. As with Rudolf Diesel, history has paid him the supreme compliment of omitting capitalization — it’s common for “monroney” to be used in correspondence or business as a mere noun denoting the window sticker in a new car.

We take the monroney for granted nowadays. There are few of us left alive who can remember the days when a car did not have its price and equipment fully and forthrightly glued to the inside of its rear passenger window. In fact, very few of us take the window sticker at all seriously. Everybody knows that in the modern car market the dealer invoice is the “real” sticker, unless you’re talking about a Ferrari or something where the MSRP is just a starting point for further discussions based on one’s history with the marque, the dealership, and/or Goldman Sachs. But the protection and information offered by that label in the window is real, it is meaningful, and it is absolutely critical to any remotely ethical business transaction between the dealer and the consumer. (Read More…)

By on September 2, 2016

Honda CPO Civic

If you were to listen to the Experts Of The Internet, you might become convinced that Certified Pre-Owned is the only way to go when buying your next whip (I like to say “whip” because I know it annoys many of you). In this case, the experts aren’t entirely wrong — after all, there’s a lot to like about CPO. Late-model cars in like-new condition at a cost that’s considerably less than new, extended warranties, 1,857-point inspections — it’s all good stuff, right? If you play your hand correctly, you can get an outstanding deal and a car that will inspire confidence.

But CPO is a giant pain-in-the-ass for many dealers. Knowing what we know about the dealership world, is it any wonder that a good number of them game the system? If you’re looking to go CPO, you’ll want to know the tricks they pull, and how they affect you, the consumer.

(Read More…)

By on July 22, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

Driving off the dealer lot in a longed-for new vehicle is one of life’s richest pleasures, but there’s no joy if a buyer can’t find the chariot of their dreams.

Now, imagine that your dream ride is a gray Chevrolet Malibu — a 1LT model with two common options. Doesn’t that seem like an attainable goal? Shouldn’t be too hard to find, you’d think, right? Well, one would-be buyer says otherwise. (Read More…)

By on July 21, 2016

Cadillac Man, Robin Williams

Imagine that you owned a successful business. For many of you reading this today (including me), you don’t have to imagine, because you’ve done it. If you owned anything from a lemonade stand to a global airline, you’d have a pretty good idea of your costs and profits. You’d know which advertising sources worked best for your business. You’d strive to know where your customers came from. You’d have a system for hiring and training employees.

You’d do all of this and more, because you must have all of your ducks lined up in pretty little rows to be successful.

Well, that is unless you’re a car dealer. In that case, you may have no idea about any part of how your business works and still make money hand over fist.

Don’t believe me? Over the next several weeks, I’ll prove it to you. Today we’ll start with a simple concept that befuddles most dealers: online merchandising.

(Read More…)

By on July 6, 2016

Suckers at the Stock Photo Dealership with a Credit Card

A record 31 percent of all new vehicles sold this year in the U.S. are leased. I spent a good part of my career studying why some people refuse to lease. Much of their resistance stems from bad buzz. Some say it’s because of the stories they heard about ’80s-era open-end leases where owners were responsible for paying the car’s residual value at lease end. (These are the same customers who will not buy a Hyundai today because they produced crappy cars in the ’80s.) Others oppose leasing because they heard about a guy whose cousin’s neighbor had to pay $5,000 in wear and tear or excess mileage charges at lease end. And there are those of you who will brag comment below about how you always pay cash for your cars and don’t understand why other people won’t follow your lead.

This article is not designed to convert such non-believers to leasing. This advice, drawn from my years in the auto finance business, is for buyers who know the basics and benefits of leasing, want some timely tips on how to get the lowest possible payments, and want to pay less money on lease-end charges.

(Read More…)

By on June 2, 2016

2016 Toyota RAV4

If you want the best chances of being treated right as a new car buyer, head over to a Toyota or Mercedes-Benz dealer, a new report says.

Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm, ranked 294 companies, including 20 auto dealers, based on satisfaction surveys from 10,000 Americans. While Toyota took the top spot with a 66 percent rating, the report holds bad news for many automakers, and the industry as a whole. (Read More…)

By on March 25, 2016

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi confirms it is going to shoehorn another SUV into its lineup to tempt those utility-hungry Americans.

That, Volvo wants everyone to buy S90s from their beds, Fiat Chrysler isn’t having a dealer’s trash talk, UAW bolsters its ranks, and your gas is going up … after the break!

(Read More…)

By on March 10, 2016

2016 Fiat 500L

Fiat’s American retailers are struggling to bring in buyers as well as pay the cost of their dealerships, but help is on the way from the parents.

On March 9, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles pitched a plan to stabilize dealers, offering Fiat stores the opportunity to combine their operations with the Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram dealers many are adjacent to, Automotive News reports.

(Read More…)

By on January 27, 2016

 

That happy couple at the car dealership, back by popular demand...

That happy couple at the car dealership, back by popular demand.

Since we last reported on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and its controversial crusade to uncover racial discrimination by car dealers on interest rate markup on automobile loans, the agency has ordered over $100 million in fines and settlements against banks that some have deemed extortion. This has infuriated lenders and car dealers, and has frustrated lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The tale continued last week as the House Committee on Financial Services revealed that their work on this case now includes trying to get the CFPB and Department of Justice to agree on that age-old problem on how to get white car buyers to admit that they are actually white.

Let us review this investigation, which recently prompted the House committee to publish a report about the CFPB probe, titled “Unsafe at Any Bureaucracy: CFPB Junk Science and Indirect Auto Lending.

(Read More…)

By on August 17, 2015

You may have noticed that car dealers get bashed by the mainstream media on a regular basis.

There are a few good reasons for that.

(Read More…)

By on July 15, 2015

Tesla Store

We have opined in these pages before about how for every Tesla sold in America, there are two or three glowing stories written about the electric automaker. There are days when over 50 percent of the pieces on auto industry news feeds are about Tesla, which is not bad for a company capturing 0.1 percent of the U.S. automobile market. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is truly a marketing and public relations genius.

Given that, it is fascinating when a negative story surfaces about Tesla’s way of doing business and the slobbering media is strangely silent.  (Read More…)

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