When negotiation goes out of the sales process, a vehicle shopper chooses styling over price and becomes a happier customer.
So says Bill Marsh Jr. 44, president of an 8-brand dealership group in Traverse City, MI. A charter Saturn dealer, he has applied the no-haggle aspect of the Saturn franchise to his other seven brands.
Styling, as a distinguishing sales point for his new-car stock and the inventory on his two used-car lots, has become “the crucial factor in consumer decision-making,” he contends.
“Cars and trucks are looking better than ever, what with their flashy headlight and taillight pods,” says Marsh, whose father Bill Marsh Sr., founded the dealer group, starting with Buick in 1982. “Interiors are really more enticing, but what's eye-catching is how our factories have sexed up the exterior lines, grilles and lights.”
When the price is right, a well-styled vehicle becomes especially alluring.
“There's a pent-up demand for great-looking new cars and trucks that draw in buyers when prices are right, which was the case for us in our 88 stores when employee discounts were offered,” says Sid DeBoer, chairman and CEO of the Lithia Motors dealership chain based in Medford, OR.
He adds: “I can't recall when cars and pickups have looked so great, what with high-styled grilles, lights, fins and chrome stripes. That creates a buzz among consumers and they come in asking for hot ones like the Chrysler 300, Nissan Altima and Murano, Ford F-150, Pontiac GTO and Solstice.
“It isn't just the fixed prices, which I hope stay on. It is also those terrifically styled cars, SUVs and pickups.”
Robert L. Thibodeau Jr. of Bob Thibodeau Ford in Center Line, MI, praises the “arty” and “magnetic” character of today's automotive designs.
He is president of the Detroit Auto Dealers Assn., which stages the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The annual show is a proven sales stimulator, Thibodeau declares. “What's even more evident, is the artistic skills demonstrated both on the vehicles and in the show exhibits year after year.
‘Employee prices are nothing new in the Detroit market, but when combined with these beautiful creations on wheels, it makes us even more excited about the 2006 show,’ he says.