The room in which I now sit is as close as it gets to our sales department, service department, purchasing department, marketing department, etc. There's not much to see here except a desk, a printer, some filing stuff, a bunch of binders, and adjunct rim storage, so I don't think anyone wants to visit here. But a guy took a trip to a car dealer's service department the other day and tweeted some interesting things ab out it, which I thought would be a fun discussion.
I don't want to get too literal or specific, but this was a luxury car dealership and it was a close relative's car. Why exactly he was there for two-plus meals worth of time is a good question, but it's left unanswered.
"ALL THE FREE COFFEE!!!" "They're bringing out FREE wraps for lunch!" "Bowls of FREE Kind bars." All nice stuff, to be sure, but despite his inclusion of "FREE" at every turn, was any of it actually, you know, free?
When you drop the huge coin on a car, the country club experience is part of the bargain, for which you pay. Many people take advantage of it, but I'm sure that "many" in this case is a word that doesn't mean anything close to "everyone." But everyone who buys such a car pays for it. The dealer's margins are no worse for giving away all this "free" stuff, in fact there's a pretty good chance that their margins are better for giving away all this "free" stuff. There are many pockets in the corporate pants from which this "free" stuff could be paid - sales, marketing, service, G&A, whatever - but those pants and pockets are entirely funded by customers.
There are many dealerships where they don't roll out a Thanksgiving feast on white linen every day. When I most recently bought a car, as I recall there was a bowl of Jolly Ranchers in the customer lounge. We bought a car and paid for a car, which came with a quite good ownership experience, but it wasn't like all of a sudden we'd joined Congressional, by which approximately 93.7% of DC group rides pass.
Mike and I try to give each of our customers a great experience. That experience includes all of our knowledge and insights, which we are more than happy to share. It includes the delivery of a product at least as good as what you thought you were getting, and all of the attendant accessories as noted. If the product fails to satisfy in any way, it includes our furious effort to make things right. We also try to include as much candor, humor, panache, and witty repartee as we can muster. If you see us at an event and you're over 21, you're also likely to walk away with the best beer you'll have that week. But that's about it for "free," because doing so otherwise would mean we have to add price or subtract product, simple as that.
Take our $585 FSWs with White Industries hubs, Sapim Lasers, and Kinlin XC279 rims. We've priced these wheels in order to give you an absolutely premier set of wheels at the lowest possible price. We're making enough to cover cost of goods and overheads (which we keep low), and to be able to swiftly and effectively respond to any issues which have a super low chance of arising anyhow, and to make enough money to make it worth while. The price also reflects an opportunity to use sales to balance inventory. But they don't come with soigneur service or a follow car - you'll have to bring a banana and change your own flats.
Crazy price, but I guess for the product it's worth it.