Would you be interested in a helpful training aid that you could use to educate your dealership personnel (and quite likely yourself) about one of the basic things you do for a living — selling and financing cars?
And would you be interested in having a booklet you could give to every customer that accurately and in detail explains the basics of buying a car on credit in language pitched at about the 10th-grade level?
How about a booklet you could take to the local high school and hand out to whomever teaches “personal finance” or “life skills” (or whatever they are calling it these days) for distribution to seniors, with your dealership's name and address stamped on it?
Would you be impressed if you knew that the booklet had been prepared by the National Automobile Dealers Assn. and the American Financial Services Assn. at no small cost?
And would you be even more impressed if you knew that the booklet had been reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission and had that federal agency's stamp of approval?
And what if the booklet were available in Spanish as well as English?
Finally, and this is the icing on the cake, what if this little gem were free? That's “free” as in “doesn't cost you anything.”
There is such a booklet. It is called Understanding Vehicle Finance. For a copy, go to www.nada.org. Click “NADA Guides” at the top of the screen, choose “Consumer Values,” then click “Finance” on the left of the screen.
This booklet can also be found on the Federal Trade Commission's web site.
It is downloadable. (I confirmed that NADA intends for it to be downloaded and used by the general public). It's not often that you get something this good and this useful for nothing.
If I were a dealer, I'd be all over this one. I'd have copies spread around my dealership (again, with the dealership's name emblazoned on them), I'd give copies to each customer who bought and financed a car from my dealership,
I'd provide them to the local high school (emphasizing that the Federal Trade Commission has approved them), send them to newspaper and TV reporters who cover consumer matters, my state legislators representatives and consumer protection agencies. I'd basically paper the town, showing my dealership's good intentions.
Dealerships that do this will get reputations as progressive and consumer-friendly places of business. Not a bad reputation to have in the community.
And if you ever happened to be sued by some plaintiff's lawyer who claims that you tried to pull the wool over his client's eyes about the basics of auto sales and financing, you will have a very strong retort.
Thomas Hudson is a law partner with Hudson Cook and editor in chief of CARLAW. He's at 410-865-5400.