Toasters or Cars?

A Frank Look at What You Are Really Selling

The automotive industry tends to lag on nearly everything. Frankly, the entire business model is centered on selling commodities, hit-and-run customer relationships, and pushing low prices rather than solving problems.


Modern day automotive advertising is the equivalent of clubbing our customers and dragging them back to our cave. The scary reality is the more technology we get, the more we use it to surrender to our own extinction.

More power is only good when used for good. This business has a bad reputation due to these antiquated practices and marketing cars as commodities in our advertising and on the internet only cheapens our dealerships and reduces our profit margins, which reduces our ability to service our customers and really provides no value to the customers who have problems.

A revolution needs to take place. The new economy is here and it’s not going to respond to the same old methods and merchant mentality we’ve always used to market ourselves and service our customers. The new economy will not be so forgiving and dealers who don’t embrace the new rules of marketing will be left behind and the dealers who embrace change will blaze a new trail that leaves everyone else in the dust. It’s already happening.

So what’s required of dealers in the new economy to prosper and thrive? A common sense approach that will actually allow you to spend less and get more from all the marketing and advertising you do in your dealership.

Somewhere along the way selling cars became less about desire and excitement and more about prices and features. Dealers and salespeople today act like they’re selling toasters, not cars.

As an industry we’re selling on prices and features instead of selling people on the value our individual dealerships can provide above and beyond the actual piece of merchandise. Let's face it. Everyone wants value for money. But when we sell on price and compete on low price we can’t afford to deliver any true value, which leaves the customer unsatisfied.

Cars are very emotional purchases but we’ve taken the emotion out of the business. Much of the value we can deliver as dealers is in the emotion of the sale and the excitement of the process and the sensation of ownership. But we’ve completely robbed our customers of that value by reducing the transaction to the most basic existence (a widget for a price) and we do a bad job at that.

Your marketing and your dealership’s sales and service experience can be a huge factor in delivering more value for money and removing yourself from the commodity game and creating happier customers who become raving fans, come back for service and refer their friends and family.


Another way to deliver more value is to stop selling the cars and start selling solutions that help people get the cars they desire.

The number of Americans who want and need to upgrade their transportation, but have issues with their credit or trade is increasing in the new economy, not decreasing. Barking prices, showing cars, listing inventory, and yakking about selection won’t solve these people's problems and it won't make them the proud owner of a new (or newer) car. This type of message is irrelevant and annoying to these people, because you aren’t addressing their needs or concerns. Ultimately, you’re not providing any value and your prospects are tuning out.

Here’s the good news. It doesn’t have to be this way. Just because it’s how you’ve always done it; or the way everyone else does it doesn’t mean it’s the only way. Believe it or not there are masses of people who make up the new high quality customers, and these people are easier to work with, are less price conscious, are more grateful for your professional service, and are more likely to come back and tell others.

Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller are the co-authors of Invasion of the Profit Snatchers, and are the founders of Rich Dealers®. Get a free copy of their new book at—use coupon code DMM1205.

Cody Larson


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