Re-posting this from our old blog because it is one of my favorites!
Pretty harsh opinion column in the Boston Globe this weekend, talking up Tesla and their desire to directly sell their cars to the public, versus the perceived downfalls of our current system of franchised dealerships. From the article, it appears that every consumer in America hates buying a car from a dealership, because every dealer sells cars exactly the same way and with exactly the same machinations and gamesmanship.
Admittedly there are lousy dealers in the marketplace, and even in well-regarded dealerships the complexities of the sales process – picking out the specific car, negotiating the price, coming to agreement on what a trade-in is worth, working out financing and after-sale products, getting the car registered and insured, as well as signing about 783 documents that are required to complete what is a very expensive sale – can lead to misunderstandings and conflict. But trust us – if you dare (!) – and understand that we really aren’t all that interested in ticking off potential customers. The system isn’t perfect and we always are looking at ways to make it better, but it really works out great for us if we have happy customers. If we treat our customers well, they actually come back and we stay in business.
Not every dealership is staffed by fast-talking hucksters who want to screw the customer out of their hard-earned money. The modern automotive marketplace is more competitive than ever before, and most cars are built so well and have so many cool features that if you do a poor job presenting your product, there’s another dealer with another quality brand right down the street who will gladly take the customer’s business. Or another dealer with the same brand just a few miles away. If all dealerships sold cars like Kurt Russell or Robin Williams, then we wouldn’t be around much longer. And with the rise of social media and online reviews, it is pretty easy today to figure out which dealerships you should steer clear of.
There is always room for reasoned debate on the current dealership-based system versus direct sales from the manufacturers. It’s a complex issue, with manufacturers, state and local governments, dealers and consumers all having a vested interest. But can we stop reverting to the same tired, hoary formulas about how all dealerships are dastardly bastions of consumer-screwing salesmanship? It’s 2013, not 1952.