Car Buyer Labs

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An Insider’s (Positive) Opinion of the BHPH Industry

You could read a variety of different articles outlining the advantages of shopping at a “Buy Here, Pay Here” dealership. However, there’s no denying that these businesses are associated with an unfair stigma, some might even say a “shady” reputation. Of course, considering the current regulations on these dealerships, much of these apparent “negative attributes” are essentially myths.

A manager of a large BHPH dealership recently took to Reddit to answer questions from users, with the hope that he would eliminate any of these preconceived notions that have developed over time. The user addressed his dealership’s willingness to help customers, its main way to making a profit, and the type of vehicles typically targeted for its inventory.

Whether you trust this particular user is up to you. It’s also worth noting that these answers may not necessarily apply to every BHPH dealership, although we’d generally reckon that he was right on the mark with the majority of his opinions. To see what an anonymous manager of a BHPH dealership had to say about the industry, continue reading below…

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It’s an unfair assumption, but many customers assume that these BHPH dealerships are solely focused on themselves. Considering the incredibly high interest rates offered by these dealerships, some buyers figure that the businesses don’t have the customer’s best interest in mind.

This certainly isn’t the case. These dealerships actually want you to complete your payments on a vehicle because that’s how these businesses can maximize their profits. Plus, they’re not looking to pull a fast one on any uninformed customers. The Reddit responder said as much when asked about the hardest part of his job, and he also addressed rumors that the BHPH dealerships “lie.”

“The toughest thing to tell people is either that they can’t get approved for financing or that they cannot get their car back after a repo because they cannot afford it.

Being a salesperson does not make someone a liar. I never intentionally lie to my customers, occasionally it becomes difficult to fulfill things I may have implied would be possible (i.e. Assuring a customer that we have cars as low as $99 down, but then telling them they need $500 or more to qualify. It’s not that I lied, but not everyone qualifies for those programs.) The implication that salespeople lie is one that has always bothered me. I believe the best philosophy you can have in sales is to under-promise and over-deliver. If you always appear to go above and beyond what was promised, customers will admire and respect you. Never make assurances to customers that you are not sure you can handle.”

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If you look through a BHPH dealership’s inventory, you may be convinced that these businesses are collecting all the used vehicles they can. While this may be the case for some dealerships, many have an actual gameplan when targeting their potential rides. As a customer, this means you may find a ten-year-old car or a five-year-old car, a low-mileage vehicle or a high-mileage vehicle… and a whole assortment of different brands.

Furthermore, dealerships aren’t focused on repossessing your car and re-selling it for additional profit. Sure, there may be circumstances where this happens. After all, you wouldn’t expect a dealership to retire a particular vehicle just because the previous owner was unable to make their monthly payments. However, dealerships can’t anticipate these circumstances, and they’re certainly not motivated by flipping the same nameplate.

“We sell cars that range 5-10 years old and have typically 50-100k miles. We like to carry reliable affordable cars that don’t cost a fortune to repair. We carry more domestics than imports as they are more affordable to buy and repair. Our top vehicles include Chevy Malibu, Impala, Monte Carlo, Ford Taurus, Focus, Dodge Stratus, Pontiac Grand Ams and Grand Prix’s etc. We carry SUVs…mostly Explorers and Trailblazers with some Tahoe, Suburban, and Expeditions mixed in. We do a lot of Hyundais and Kias like the Sonata, Elantra etc.

We don’t “churn” the same car over and over. Occasionally, if we take back a car early on we might resell it once…maybe twice, but we must forgive the previous customer of any money that they owed us.

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As a customer of a BHPH dealership, you’re going to want to get on the dealer’s friendly side. We’re not saying that you necessarily have to be buddy-buddy with the sales or finance team. However, if you prove to be a reliable, trustworthy customer, you may find that you can secure an even better deal when you pursue a future ride.

“My best customers are the ones that make the vast majority of their payments on time and are reasonable and pleasant when coming in to discuss financial or vehicle repair concerns. These people more often than not, get the payment extension they are looking for, the repair they need for free, or an interest-free loan for repairs.
The worst customers always have attitude or want to accuse me/us of doing them some type of disservice. In the end, they want the exact thing as the pleasant customers but the experience of arriving at the same conclusion is much more painful for all parties involved.”

So if these dealerships are truly as customer-friendly as this Reddit user claims, how do they ultimately make their money? When all is said and done, these businesses are making the majority of their profit via the interest rates, and they rarely make money off their numerous services.

“The profitability of a Buy Here Pay Here operation lays mostly with a store’s ability to collect on the accounts they generate. I could easily sell double the amount of cars, but my collection rate would suffer immensely and profits would steadily shrink. Our service department is not profitable, the goal is to get as close as possible to breaking even.”

If your credit is struggling, a BHPH dealership might be your best bet to secure your next ride. Luckily, thanks to the answers provided by this insider, you should experience less apprehension about visiting these particular businesses.