The no-dicker sticker is back
Keith Crain is editor-in-chief of Automotive News.
More that a decade ago, one of the hottest topics in the retail business was the no-dicker sticker.
Dealers all over the country were adopting a process that used fixed-price selling with no negotiation.
The price was supposed to be as low as possible without regard to the manufacturer's suggested retail price, and about the only thing to negotiate was the value of the trade-in.
Although some dealers still use the no-dicker sticker method, it largely died a quiet death and hasn't been thought about for a while.
Well, the no-dicker sticker is back. Only this time it's not controlled by the dealer.
I remember when new-car margins were 20 percent or more for dealerships. Those days are long gone and only fond memories for folks who have been in this business a long time.
Today margins have been cut so much that whether or not dealers want no-dicker stickers, they have little choice.
Most manufacturers have such slim margins that the retailer has no wiggle room to negotiate with the customer. So the dealer's profit potential is limited to aftersale items and the price of the trade-in.
As margins continue to shrink, it will be tougher and tougher for a dealership to use price as a convincing argument for closing a sale. More and more pricing is going to be identical.
It will become more important to understand all the factors that go into a successful transaction and into customer satisfaction scores.
Customers want it their way, and there is no "one size fits all" method. Each customer will want to be treated differently from the customer who went before and the one who comes after.
It made a lot of sense to give dealers the ability to adjust prices based on many factors. But as margins got smaller and smaller, that became harder to do.
Mercedes-Benz made margins so small that the factory almost forced dealerships to adopt one-price selling. A lot of other manufacturers have done the same thing.
The no-dicker sticker is back, only no one realizes it.
You can reach Keith Crain at firstname.lastname@example.org.