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We’ve been told that choosing a vehicle can be tough.  We’ve never understood that.  Logically speaking; the choice is clear: it should be a Honda.  Oh there will always be those folks that will buy a vehicle based on cool tail lights or “my dad always bought XXX”.  We’re probably just a little biased, but if your buying something that you will need to rely on for years, a little more logic should play into the decision making process than what pretty colour it comes in. Once that decision is made, it opens up a long list of smaller decisions that will impact our long-term vehicle satisfaction.  Do you buy or lease?  Cash purchase or do you take advantage of subsidized interest rates?  Warranties, protection products, credit approvals… navigating a maze of options who’s goal is to maximize your vehicle ownership satisfaction.    Enter the professionals:  Financial Service Managers Dwayne Cook, Nadine DelMedico, and Leasing Manager David McHarg.

How Long Have you been with Halton Honda?

Nadine:  Actually it’s one year this month!  But I was doing this at a Honda dealership up in Sudbury before transferring down to St. Catherine’s and then here.

David: 15 years.  I did Financial  Service Managing prior to becoming the Leasing Manager.

Dwayne: 20 years here and two at a GM dealership.

Explain your job. 

Nadine: Financial Service Manager.  Well, Dwayne and I secure the transaction that a customer has decided on with their salesperson.  Landing on the financial institution, either financing, leasing or even cash purchases.

Dwayne:  We sit down with a customer and verify the information that was loaded in the computer by their salesperson.  That way, when we print the contracts, we know all the fields have been filled correctly.  Then we’ll go over the vehicle they purchased making sure it’s the right one, with the right numbers attached so there are no surprises.  I’ll make sure to explain what standard warranties come with the vehicle and what warranties are available to be added.

Nadine: We also educate the customer on all products that are available to them so Honda plus extended coverage, chemical protection products and even accessories.

Dwayne: Oh yeah.  Most customers are so focused on securing the vehicle and the deal, they forget that they can personalize it to their lifestyle with Honda accessories and protection products.  Like what?  Well say if someone does a lot of gardening for instance; they would get a lot of benefit from the cargo tray that protects your trunk and is easily washed out. Or what if you transport a big hairy dog in your back seat?  Honda makes fantastic seat covers, things like that.   We get a lot of “I could use that!”.

How about you David?  What does your job entail?   

David: Leasing Manager, and new and pre-owned sales.   Part of our process for Halton Honda lease customers is to make sure they are aware of what needs to happen at lease end.  We take a consultative approach to allow them to make the best possible, informed decision depending on what their needs are and what they’re hoping to do.  So you meet with lease customer before they sit down with their salesperson?  3-4 months prior to he end of their lease.  We want to give them enough time to consider their options. Customers that have gone over their kilometer allowance and/or have had vehicle damage; have preconceived ideas as to what they have to do, often times not understanding that there may be other options.  I’ve had a lot of driver’s that have changed their minds two or three times in my office so it’s important to start the end of lease process early so we all have time to ask and answer questions without an immediate deadline looming.  It’s important to understand that no matter what a customer is considering (like buying out a lease or getting a new vehicle), we’re here to help our customer’s make the best decision based on their needs.  But more than just helping Lease customers; you can still assist someone that wants to purchase a vehicle right?   Definitely!  I have over 20 years’ worth of loyal customers I help purchase vehicles.  With the way technology changes so quickly in cars today, I keep up to date on my product knowledge so I can still help my repeat customers and even though I’m the leasing manager, I have several customers that finance or straight out purchase.

Is there one service +/or product that tops your list when making recommendations to customers?

Nadine: Honda Plus Extended Warranty absolutely.  I’m a firm believer in protecting your investment.  Like everything today there’s so many more components, gadgets, it’s like a cell phone or computer, anything can happen unexpectedly. Even though Honda is a good product, very reputable, it’s best to add the Honda Plus for every eventuality.  Ultimately we don’t want our clients having a bad experience.

Dwayne:  Warranty.  I’m a big believer in warranty.  Simply as vehicles get more and more…I’ll call them “safety and convenience” features on them (which are all electronic), it just scares me.  Especially having gone through issues with my own vehicle and family & friends’ vehicles when things go wrong, that I just think everyone should have as much warranty as possible.  And it sure feels like a no-brainer when it’s priced as low as Honda’s.

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Dwayne just can’t stand still, and David is not impressed!

What surprises you the most?

Nadine: I get a lot of customers that believe everything they read online.  It’s like anything out there, you can’t believe all the scare tactics that the internet thrives on, you have to come in and talk to the experts.

Dwayne:  What surprises me the most?  Well, I’d have to say this past year I was really surprised when Honda came out with their own product to protect vehicles from rust,  They’ve never done that before and it’s phenomenal because it’s protection from the outside in, inside out, it’s transferable to a new vehicle and you have a trusted company backing it.  Instead of leaving that type of protection product to aftermarket companies?  That’s right.  Honda decided to come out with their own based on feedback they got from customers not happy with the rust protection products usually offered.  Some drivers found they wouldn’t have warranties honoured because of some loophole in the contract. With Honda’s own rust protection, the contract is laid out simply, it’s spelled out and straightforward.  Bottom line is that no one wants a customer to be disappointed because they didn’t get something that they thought they bought.

David:  I’m surprised at the number of people that assume we’re only interested in selling them new cars.  I guess in a perfect world everyone would get a new car every 3 or 4 years, but then our service department would empty!  Ultimately if someone is driving a leased vehicle and they’ve loved it so much they want to carry on driving it into it’s second phase of life, that’s great. What a perfect way for a parent to purchase a trusted vehicle for their child.  A lot of the time a Honda vehicle gets passed around from family member to family member, which creates a new generation of Honda owner.  We’d never want to discourage that. (LOL)

In your experience how do most customers finance their vehicle?

Nadine:  It really depends on the dealership location—-but here in Burlington?  I’d have to say most people lease.  There’s lots of different reasons people lease but here I’ve found that most customers are interested in getting a new vehicle more frequently.

David:  Most people in this region lease.  The technology in cars is changing so fast now-a-days, when someone is still making payments on an older vehicle that doesn’t have the options that driver’s expect now, like Bluetooth, USB ports, driver assisted safety features, or even heated seats, they know it’s time to switch up.

Dwayne:  Lease.  Everyone is saying that leasing is the most common way to purchase a vehicle here!   Because it is. And personally, I think everyone should lease.  My own sister didn’t listen to me at all but you can only explain to people what you think and why.  If someone has the intent to keep the car for 10-15 years; fine. Buy it.  The reason I tell people to consider leasing is because most people don’t really know what awaits them 5, 4, or even 3 years from now.  So you lease a car for 4 years, if you still love it at the end, buy it.  If you don’t love it, you can return it with the knowledge that you’ve only paid for the portion that you used.

What’s the biggest benefit about doing it that way?  

Nadine:  Besides getting new car smell sooner? (LOL)

David:  Gives people the opportunity to drive a new vehicle with few repairs, high reliability, and not incurring the cost of depreciation on a long term contract.

Dwayne:  Say if you got into an accident while you’re leasing.  Honda takes the big loss on that car.  So, if you had a $6400 accident claim against it (like someone in my family that will remain nameless),  that car has now dropped in value by over $3,500.  Instead of you having to take that loss, Honda builds that type of loss into their lease contracts and assumes that extra depreciation when they sell that car at the auctions.

 

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Dwayne, Nadine, David and a nosey General Sales Manager: Brad Joseph.

Anything to add about your roles?

Dwayne:  Our clients appreciate the consultative role that we strive for.  There’s never a one-size, fits-all solution.  I remember Jeff’s customer back in ’06 or ’07, bought a half ton North American pick up truck, you know, he was a real man’s-man and just had to have the big truck.  Then he discovered he was getting really tired of paying $100 a week in gas (this was back when gas prices were pushing $1.40/litre); the truck was a huge gas guzzler.  So he came in and was determined to trade it in and get a fuel efficient Civic to save money.  After he did the deal on a new Civic he came into my office to finalize everything and I had to ask him “Why are you getting out of your truck?  Because I see that you’ll be taking a loss of over $12,000 by trading it in so early.”.  Without even factoring in the new Civic he was starting off with a $300/mth payment.  When he told me it was all down to gas, we took a moment and did the math together and I explained that what he would spend on gas in his truck over the next 6 years would equal the $12,000 loss he was preparing to take now.   It would be 6 years before he’d start experiencing any savings.  He went home and thought about it and the next day he called to thank us for taking the time to explain everything and he didn’t buy the car.   Wow, I’m sure Jeff wasn’t too pleased, but that’s great service.    That’s the Halton Honda difference that keeps customer coming back, every case is unique.  Did he ever come back in?  I think he’s still driving it but a couple of years ago he brought in his fiance and helped her buy an Accord.  He can’t believe we helped him NOT buy a car, but he loves us for it.  That reminds me though…now that the new Ridgeline is out, we should give him a call!