Oh, the stigma of car dealerships.
Granted, today’s car buyers continue to share dealership horror stories, but if you’re over a certain age (let’s say 30) you probably remember a time where automotive sales barely qualified as human beings. In the evolutionary food chain, car salesman were rated somewhere above non-thinking single-celled organism and fungal spores. Sure, it didn’t slow us from buying cars, but both dealerships and salespeople were viewed with an instant lack of credibility, made instant fodder for comedians and sitcoms alike.
The comedic stereotypes were engrained in our cultural mindset: new cars were sold by mafia lawyer wannabes rocking shimmery, sharkskin suits and helmet-hair while used cars were pushed in poorly made commercials by fast-talking, aging snake-oil salesman whose loud sports coats were overpowered only by their combovers.
While some may argue that things haven’t changed that much, I have to disagree. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be hints of such stereotypes within dealership culture; after all, every stereotype has some basis in fact. The simple fact is that dealerships have been forced to evolve for two primary reasons (i) creation of legislation designed to protect the consumer, and (ii) the average consumer’s accessibility to information.
While we can only hope that these trends continue, leveling the playing field between dealership and consumer, real hope presents itself in unexpected places. Submitted for your approval, last year’s story of a small Largo, Florida used car dealership that chose to ‘say it like it is’.
For the better part of two decades, television programming and commercials have moved away from sanitized glamour shots to find the humor in everything. This self-deprecating abandonment of pretentiousness makes almost every product more appealing. Whether the product being sold is cars, candy or cleaning products there’s something to be said for honesty and humor in any marketing campaign.
With company’s assuming more control over their marketing dollar, utilizing social media to expand their reach, this kind of tactic can only have positive impact. This is especially applicable to car dealerships since they can only empower themselves by being ‘in on the joke’.
So listen up, dealerships. Embrace the stereotypes. Laugh at yourself. Let the quality of your products and services speak for themselves. I promise you, the payoff of doing so might just surprise you.