No-dicker sticker: It’s back

There have been so many battles in the automobile business over the years that most have been forgotten.

But not too long ago, there was a controversy among dealers about how to price a new car.

Lexus, Infiniti and then Saturn had told their dealers that they could not cut the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Sure, there was a little haggling room for the value of the trade-in, but by and large, dealers stuck by their guns and sold those new cars for sticker.

That was the start of the no-dicker sticker.

Some dealers took it a step further. They put another price on the car — somewhere between the invoice price and the MSRP — and wouldn’t negotiate with the customer. Some dealers were very successful while others abandoned the idea as unworkable. But the dealers who have stayed with the no-dicker sticker swear by it and claim it has been very successful.

Later, Mercedes-Benz just about force- fed its dealers the no-dicker sticker. Mercedes cut the dealer discount rate to the point that there was practically no room for any negotiation. That’s one way to force your dealers to accept a new pricing strategy.

Now it looks as if Chrysler is edging its

way into a no-dicker sticker. Chrysler execs must have liked the results that their sister company has achieved.

The no-dicker sticker was part of what Ford was trying to accomplish when it went into certain markets and bought dealer-ships. Perhaps Jim Schroer, Chrysler’s exec in charge of sales and marketing, brought the no-dicker sticker concept from Ford.

I’m a fan of the concept of the no-dicker sticker, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all concept. Except maybe at DaimlerChrysler. It will be interesting to see if it gives Chrysler’s retailers an advantage or a disadvantage.

Somebody once told me that $50 in the marketplace made a real difference. If dealers aren’t able to do what has to be done in their own markets, then they will have a problem.

The one-size-fits-all approach is fairly tough on the smaller-market dealers across the country. Often they need the wider margins so they can make a deal with their customers who have an unrealistic idea of what their trade-in is worth.

It’s a competitive market. If you unilaterally make it tougher for dealers to compete, then it could be an interesting, but bloody, experiment.

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