How to Maximize the Auto Dealership Experience

FCA_PantoneCourtesy of FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)

Whether it’s a 3500-series pickup truck, a roomy cargo van or a fuel-efficient cross-over, next to payroll, a work vehicle is one of most significant expenses a small business can have. With stakes that high, it pays (literally) to understand how small-business owners can take full advantage of the vehicle-buying experience.

To find out how National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI) members can get the best available deal on the right work vehicle — and in the most efficient way possible — we consulted with Chris Dyer, a Small Business Sales Specialist from FCA US LLC. As a liaison between independent dealerships and the manufacturer, Chris is well suited to provide insight into the vehicle-buying process, particularly for small businesses. Here are his tips for getting the most from your next visit to the showroom.

  • Research Dealerships

According to Chris, the number one mistake made by small-business owners is not choosing a dealership that can adequately meet their needs. “Too often people go to the dealership closest to their business or home, not realizing that another one just down the road or in the next town over might be much better equipped to sell and service commercial vehicles.” In other words, two similar-looking FCA US dealerships might sell basically the same vehicles — the same is true with GM or Ford dealerships — but only one might be set up to cater to commercial buyers.

Keep in mind, says Chris, that not all dealerships choose to make the sale of commercial vehicles a part of their business model. Those that do usually offer perks and services specifically geared to the small-business owner, such as extended service hours (or even overnight service), dedicated commercial sales consultants and a well-stocked and diverse inventory of commercial vehicles.

Even when multiple dealerships in the area cater to commercial buyers (or claim to), the scope and breadth of services offered at each might differ drastically. “It’s worth having a conversation with a sales consultant at each dealership to find out just how committed they are to serving buyers like you.” Ask if and how they prioritize service appointments for commercial vehicles, and how often they work with other commercial buyers. It’s also good to know how familiar they are with your specific industry. “You mind find one dealership stands out above the rest.”

  • Pre-Visit Preparation

Before ever stepping foot into a dealership, customers should clearly define how they intend to use their new vehicle(s). “What are you hauling and in what terrains? What will you be towing and how often? How many passengers do you need to accommodate?” Having clear answers going in will make for a more efficient, productive experience overall, potentially saving you hours in the showroom. “That’s important,” says Chris. “We all know time is money in business.”

  • Ask the Right Questions

Find out the name of the commercial sales consultant and ask to work specifically with them. If you’re in a dealership that caters to small-business owners and their employees, particularly those in the remodeling industry, they should have a person on staff who understands your distinct set of needs from working day-in and day-out with other commercial buyers.

Not only that, the commercial sales consultant should be up to date on all incentives currently available to businesses. “Many incentives are easy to find right on the manufacturer’s website,” Chris says. But others are more obscure or not common knowledge. “Don’t be afraid to ask what incentives, offers and allowances are available to someone in your specific industry — you’d be surprised at some of the deals you’ll discover.”

The most important thing is to see your sales consultant as an expert and to treat him or her as such. In short, ask questions, of all kinds, and plenty of them. There are no silly questions when it comes to buying work vehicles — only questions that could potentially save you money.

  • Understand What’s In It for the Dealership

Like successful businesses in any industry, a smart auto dealership is always working to build a loyal customer base. Rather than rake a prospective buyer over the coals, trying to squeeze out a few more dollars on the sale of a new vehicle, they would prefer to make lifelong customers by treating people fairly and with respect.

“That’s especially true if you own a business,” says Chris. “Earning the loyalty of a small-business owner is a big win for a dealership.” Not only does it mean repeat sales from the business itself, it could very well mean more customers in terms of the business’s employees.

Even for single-person companies, where the sole proprietor is also the sole driver, it still makes sense for dealerships to build a strong relationship. “The best dealerships realize the importance of being a true partner with business owners, no matter how large or small the business.” From service and maintenance work to future vehicle sales to referrals, there is great value in keeping people happy, especially the members of an association like NARI “When buyers know that going in,” says Chris, “they’re far more likely to take full advantage of what the dealer has to offer.” The key, again, is to first find a dealership that understands the needs of its small-business clientele.


About the Author: FCA US LLC and its network of independent dealerships, especially those that participate in the BusinessLink program, are proud to offer NARI members along with their household family members and employees a $500 cash allowance toward the purchase or lease of select Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram and FIAT® Brand vehicles. Visit the member benefit page on the NARI website for more information.

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