Quick Question No. 1
What was the best thing you've learned at the convention or seen on the exhibition floor? Did you buy anything?
Mike Maroone, COO of AutoNation Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: "The rules state-by-state are very clear in terms of how you're supposed to communicate, but we see people who are playing on the edge and almost defiant. We're doubling our efforts on compliance. We go in and we're refreshing state-by-state the regulation requirements to make sure all of our people are compliant."
Paul Walser, CEO of Walser Automotive Group in Minneapolis: "In the state of Minnesota or in the Twin Cities area, we have an advertising board that works with the Better Business Bureau to monitor advertising and so we're sort of self-policed. If someone violates it once, they get a warning. If they violate it again, they get a stern warning and if they do it a third time, the Better Business Bureau goes public with that business. So the Twin Cities are going to be one of the cleaner areas of auto dealership advertising. At the same time, I am on that advertising review board and there are dealers who are doing things that are questionable. But it's challenging because there are some where our requirements are a little gray. There are dealers who are willing to be on edge in order to get an advantage."
Tamara Darvish, vice president of DARCARS Automotive Group in Silver Spring, Md.: "You see some ads where there are a combination of rebates and it's hard to explain to customers that I can't get to that price. We've got to keep reinforcing with our management team that it's not about the deal and customers aren't stupid. They see through all of that. I see it more in print than anything. I don't really watch a lot of TV. But it's more where there's a combination of rebates."
Rob Smith, vice president of strategic planning for Fitzgerald Auto Malls in Kensington, Md.: "I don't see it very much in the D.C. metro area. You'll find pockets of that, but the consumers are too educated. We're 'posted price' so it's a little different for us. If anything, what the FTC is doing levels the playing field and you won't see those outrageous claims."
Brent Hopkins, CEO of Ken Garff Automotive Group in Salt Lake City: "It's not something that consumes us. It's out there. Many dealers ... try to push the envelope on promotion. We also call it a half-truth. We just ignore it, but is it out there? Yes."