Why Are Dealerships Like This?

BuyMeEyesBleedIt’s not really a secret … it’s usually pretty painful listening to ads for vehicles. (Like looking at that gif.)

“Why is that,” you might wonder. No, let’s be real here – you already know. It’s because almost exclusively, the person in charge of advertising at a dealership is … in sales.

Oh yes, you might think that should make them somewhat perfect for arranging their ads. After all, they sell cars – you want to help them sell cars – everyone should be on the same page, right?


Most of the time, what you want to do, as a writer, is make an emotional plea. People will rationalize a purchase once it is made emotionally.

What they want is to hear finance terms, model numbers, and the lowest dollar payment number they could fabricate to lure people in. They’re number crunchers.

Never mind that their newly fabricated payment price is often unattainable by any person who actually exists. You know, “after rebates. Must be a disabled military veteran purchasing your first vehicle after graduating college in the past 30 days.”

This is what I like to call dollar store mentality.

Dollar stores don’t sell, well, ANYTHING based on quality and long-term satisfaction. They sell based solely on things being cheap, disposable, and filling a temporary need at the lowest price possible. And yes, that is exactly what attracts dollar store customers.

I can only think of one product I ever specifically sought out at a dollar store because it had a reputation for being superior to pretty much everything else in that category – and could only be found in a dollar store.  (No, I won’t name that product, because this isn’t an ad for it, but this mythical thing DOES exist.  It’s totally awesome. [If you got that, you know what I’m talking about. Wink, nudge.])

Back on topic.

When you’re shelling out $50-$60,000 for a new truck, are you at all interested in anything that positions itself as cheap, cut-rate, and quickly disposable?  I’m sure not!  I’m looking at why I want/need that particular vehicle/feature, why it does for me, how it makes me feel to have/not have it, whether the thing will still be road-worthy by the time it’s paid for, what kind of warranty is protecting my investment, and, at some point, what concessions I’m willing to make between my ideal buy and what my budget would allow.

You’ll notice something when you go through ANY manufacturer’s “Build & Price” section and spend some time there.

“Estimate payments” always comes last!

Not one car company I’ve looked at starts with payments and financing terms. They have you choose what you want first. Models, colours, options, accessories … build your dream vehicle. Yearn for it. Salivate a little. THEN they hit you with numbers.

And yet, that’s what many local dealerships seem to like to flog our listeners with right out of the gate. They’re sending our audience straight to the financing department before they’ve even mentioned being interested in a vehicle!

Sell the dream, let reality set in once they’re on the lot. Get the customer TO the lot first.  THAT is the job of the ads we write.

Once they’re on the lot, let them look around, decide what they like, climb inside, take a test drive, picture themselves owning the vehicle. Let them convince themselves they need it.

NOW close the sale.
NOW talk about costs and leases and purchase financing.
NOW you have their attention.
NOW they’re trying to justify their desire.
NOW they care about those numbers that would be wasted in ads.

But that’s not what ends up happening. Nope, we’ll still receive a rock bottom price on the absolute basic, stripped down model they can get their hands on (normally the one nobody actually wants because it’s so devoid of options), apply the best finance rate they can access, apply every rebate and incentive available – even if it’s not possible to combine them all in reality – and mash out a payment price “starting as low as blah blah blah” that absolutely NOBODY hearing it actually believes they will pay. Oh, and all at a fantastic interest rate to well-qualified buyers. Your average listener is probably not one of them.

All it does is make them tune out.  Nobody wants to listen to some announcer spitting out random, pretty much meaningless, numbers.

You’re not selling cheap, disposable toys for small children. You’re selling vehicles that are offered with financing terms up to 96 months these days!  (That’s 8 years, if you can’t even math right now.)

So why are we talking about “low, low payments from only $xx a week!” like they’re an 8-pack of off-brand crayons?  This is an investment you’ll be paying for over the next EIGHT YEARS! (potentially)

Dealerships really don’t want the dollar store shopper.  They’re all about the price, loyal to nothing, and will turn to a competitor in a heartbeat if their innate cheapness isn’t satisfied. Let them go and be someone else’s headache if that’s the case.

You want the customer who wants a vehicle, wants a good great experience buying that vehicle, and who is treated like a human being during the process – not an account to be serviced. Win THAT customer, treat them right, show them you value their investment in your dealership … you’ll have a customer who comes back every 4-8 years to buy another new unit vehicle. (Please, PLEASE stop advertising your “units”!!!)

The beautiful thing about that kind of advertising? No numbers. No finance terms. No legal disclaimers. And best of all? No waiting for their corporate head office to announce the next incentive plan.

When you advertise vehicles the right way, incentives are a bonus to be discovered when you’re already set to buy. Vehicles aren’t an impulse buy like a pack of gum in the checkout line.

  1. Evoke an emotional, irrational desire to buy. (Once they want it, they’ll justify it!)
  2. Get past the “low, low payments” and financing gobbledegook. (It’s meaningless.)
  3. Profit! (Literally.)

Leave a Reply