Myth #1 would be usually shady used car dealers selling junk cars. The guy with the plaid coat and the cigar, gold chain, gold rings. Fixing cars with bubblegum and duct tape to get them out the door.
We find that there are people who have those kinds of ideas when they come into Country Auto. It’s what they expect; and we try to overcome that. Our customers give great testimonials about us.
We show them a lot of things we’ve accomplished as a business. One, we’ve been here for 22 years, so that’s huge. You don’t stay successful in a community that long if you’re shady. Two, we’re Better Business Bureau members for 20, 21 years now, and accredited with them. The Better Business Bureau actually gave us an ethics award, too. It’s been a few years back but we do have that ethics award from the Better Business Bureau.
We have a lot of things like that we can show them: we’ve been nominated Business of the Week just recently from the Jerome Chamber of Commerce. We’re very involved in our local community. We just show ‘em a lot of community involvement, awards, and our longevity.
What’s the second misconception? With buy here pay here, people think that we get our money out of the car from the customer’s down payment and the rest is all profit. That’s definitely not the case. The truth is that cars have gotten very expensive, especially over the last ten years. Actually, twelve, thirteen years now. And the down payments have gotten smaller; the disposable income of people has gotten smaller.
We have about 16-18 employees—the cost of doing business has gone up dramatically. The cost of cars has gone up, and the down payments have gone lower. The myth is that we get the money right up front and the rest is profit. Customers sometimes think that if we have to repo it next week, no big deal. That’s absolutely not the truth. We need the car to go a long time. Longevity. That’s why we do the 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty so the car will run; because we know if the car runs, we get paid back.
And the third misconception It kind of goes with the second. A lot of people come in and say, “You guys just look to repo.” They think we want to take their money in a down payment, set them up for financing, and then just repossess the car—they think that’s where we make our money. It’s not.
It’s very expensive to repo cars. We hate it because it ends the relationship with our customer. When somebody pays off a car and has had a great experience with us, we can sell vehicles to them again, and their family, and friends—that’s what keeps us in business.
Once you repo the vehicle, it usually ends that relationship and you lose that connection. It’s really the worst thing. It’s the very last resort.