Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Local businesswoman breaks auto sales myth

Putu Blanco Making Big Splash in  Auto Business

Her Public Relations background makes for an easy transition

Former Sacramento restaurant owner Putu Blanco has made a stunning debut as a used car operator. Keep in mind this was an industry dominated by males for years, but that hasn't deterred Putu, in fact it may have been a driving force to learn the business in record time, and that she has done. She is large and in charge of one of the most dynamic growth stories in the auto business on the west coast. Her title might best be described as operations manager, but believe me "boss" would be the more apt description. She runs the day to day business of three separate large volume stores; Sacramento, Stockton, and Fresno. Her husband of course was the original visionary of the chain of successful pre-owned stores, but it is Putu with her business acumen, work ethic, and empathy for people including the customers and employees that is blazing trails. Recently, donating a large sum of money to local charity My Sisters House. An Asian focused organization dedicated to assisting battered, and at risk females in hostile situations. That and her west coast auto legend husband's experience and steady hand.

How so you might say given her limited background in autos. "I had driven a car, and that was about it says Putu" but I volunteered to help my husband establish a business development center using my educational background in PR. I soon realized there was a serious need for an empathetic ear to the needs of customers and employees that maybe was not being completely addressed. And that got the ball rolling. Addressing customer concerns, and the issues that crop up with this many employees gave me a taste for more. And gave me a unique insight into a business I quickly realized is much the same as the restaurant business. Serving people and making them happy is the goal except that instead of a delicious meal with great service, I am serving Camry's with the same great service. I brought the same work ethic, and intensity into this endeavor as I did to the food service field. And the results have been nothing less than gratifying.
I won instant respect, because of my work ethic. And I never pretended to know something I didn't know. My husband is a natural entrepreneur, and I am a people person. Perfect combination for the auto industry. Some days I don't exactly know where I am at all times, flying from Sacramento to LA, then on to Fresno and then back to LA. Or driving to Stockton and then on to Fresno. Our business is rapidly expanding, and I hope it has a little to do with my personal touch, says Mrs. Blanco. I can truly say that no one who have come into contact with Putu; has any doubt. She's a dynamic personality!

Frank Creech | Auto Guru
Auto Market News Blogs

Paul Blanco reports record December used car sales


Paul Blanco Good Car Company reports record used car sales in Sacramento

Stockton, and Fresno sales also strong

California Used car sales

In the market for a used car? Well you are apparently not alone if you live in Sacramento, Stockton or Fresno. Sales at one dealer we checked with were off the charts in December. Paul Blanco, an iconic name in California auto circles, reports that his chain of used car stores were on fire the entire month. Almost to the point of running out of merchandise in many makes and models. Blanco, who has made a mark merchandising vehicles that are two to five model years old, say that his dealer group made a strong push with late model trucks, particularly in Fresno and pre-owned used import cars like Toyota and Honda's in Stockton and Sacramento locations.

Used Cars California
Paul Blanco use cars Sacramento
Paul Blanco's Good Car Company credits the easing of credit requirements, saying that many big banks are buying looser than ever, and the strengthening economy as well as a buildup of inventory for the huge increases. Manger Jeff, GM in Sacramento, says that more people, even those with some credit issues, are finding a bank or credit union among the 100 or so available at the store that will grant credit and terms. And of course the national trend of job growth is a factor as well. But the real key, according to Jeff,  may be the new policy of stacking 'em deep and selling 'em cheap. Which was of course his way of saying they have built their inventory to all time high levels. So more and more people are finding the perfect vehicle on the lot. This dramatic change comes partially because of cheap interest rates that enable a big operator like the Good Car Company to build his inventory courtesy of low inventory costs.

Of course the sales of certain makes and models are driving sales on a daily basis. The ever popular Toyota Camry, Rav4, and Corolla. The hot selling Hondas including the Accord, Civic and SUV's. And the sales of the Silverado, Ram, and F150 pickups are note worthy. In fact, according to Manager Jeff, the market for a like new hot selling import, pickup, family van, or SUV may just now be taking off. Reasoning that tax refunds are just now starting to trickle in along with the wide choice of make, model and color that people like. Many other northern California pre-owned dealers are doing well also so now must be a great time to buy. In the meantime The San Francisco 49'ers are not the only big winners in this part of the world!

Actual Paul Blanco reviews are coming in for their Good Car Company.

Frank Creech | Auto Guru
Auto Market News Blogs

Should I buy a new vehicle or go used

Buying a new car or a used car


Which brand of used vehicle is the best bet in overall value and performance

And should I consult a mechanic before making a decision

In the no size fits all category this would rank at the very top. First you need to decide what is important to you. Is it gas mileage? Performance and fun? Reliability and ease of service? Initial cost? Image? All these and many other factors must be factored in. So lets dive in and take a look at what is available to scratch whatever itch Sacramento used car buyers have.

Gas mileage is of course of paramount importance these days of inflated prices at the pump and uncertainty. Most of the imports such as Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and their cousin the Kia products are renowned for gatting maximum MPG. But the domestic Chevy and Ford have made great strides and in some cases even exceed those brands. Best bet is to check with a vehicle selection guide book at your friendly Barnes and Nobles and use the new model indicator for a guide post as a sales person frankly would not have a reliable source of information handy. Generally the smaller the car the better the mileage and the front drive models do the best. If mileage is not that important and you choose to go the SUV route then the front drive models are far superior to the rear wheel drive, body on frame ones but safety may be compromised a bit in those as compared to the heavier and more sturdy rear drive. Trucks are a different breed of cat. They all burn far more fuel than the passenger cars. Overall the Chevy and the GMC have had a better rep than that of the Ram and F150 as far as mileage is my experience.

Performance and fun. One simple rule of thumb. It costs both at the point of sale and in mileage and insurance costs. But if you just must some pretty good values in a preowned sporty type vehicle are the Mustangs, Dodge Challenger, Hyundai and Kia coupes and of course the Beetle Convertibles. And the resale is generally good as there is an active and continuing demand for these.

Reliability is pretty darn good on all vehicles anymore. Change the oil, do the service and drive sensibly and you will probably be shocked at how long the service life is on you brand new used car. As far as cost of parts and repair it is probably best to stay in the middle of the road as far as model selection. Parts availabilty and cost and general service is far less on a Ford or Chevy for instance than it would be on a Mercedes or any import generally.

Initial cost is a by product of demand. Expect to pay more for a Toyota Camry than you would for a Chevy Malibu. Expect to pay even more for a Acura than a Toyota. Part of the extra cost is the intial cost new of course but that is not always the case. Example: you can be expected to pay as much of more for a comparable four year old Honda Accord than for a four year old luxury car. And if a bargain per mile is important then the domestic Chevy and Ford models are great as they cost fewer dollars used than the imports. But the best buys of all would be the preowned Dodge models as they are even less than the Ford and Chevy vehicles generally. And just as reliable.

Women Drivers are better Lastly what of image. One would have to assume that as a used vehicle intender you are more practical than the average buyer so this would not be of great concern. But that would be an untrue assumption in many cases. Hondas are a image builder among the younger set. Many young men like to tool around in a Silverado, Ram or F150 pickup and those are sure image builders among certain demographics. And convertible are sure fire winners among many particularly of the female gender but not always.

With a decision to make I would surmise that among the midsize auto buyers which is a huge segment if value is your thing it would be hard to go against the Chevy Malibu or the Ford Fusion. If you like both value and are willing to pay a little more for image then go for an Accord, Camry or Altima.  Trucks and Suvs choices are a little more personal taste.

For a professional opinion I asked Paul Blanco of the Paul Blanco Good Car Company with quality used car locations in Sacramento, Stockton and Fresno. His advice is to always go for what your first instinct is and always take your first choice to a mechanic before you plunk down your hard earned cash.  That sounds like good advice to me.

Frank Creech | Auto Guru
Auto Market News Blogs

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Auto salesperson tricks of the trade


Auto Sales Tricks and tips

How to Beat the used car market

The first thing you must arm yourself with before you enter the showroom is knowledge and plenty of it. As soon as you get a pretty concrete idea of what type vehicle it is that you are interested in purchasing then do your diligence but don't overload yourself with a bunch of pre-conceived notions that will probably hamper your flexibility in getting the vehicle you will be satisfied with. Best that some things are left to the discovery process since things change very rapidly in the retail auto industry.

Ok so you generally have landed your focus on a midsize to smaller SUV since it is for your daughter who is going away to college and has a puppy, lots of laudry and "stuff" that she absolutely must carry. And since your child is not mechanically inclined and is moving to a typical college city of 50,000 you decide to purchase new. Next you would want to find out what dealers are available in that city to honor warrenty and do required maintenence. Nothing like buying a vehicle and finding out you must travel 100 miles to get minor repair. So what other items on your purchase to do list should you consider? In no particular order of priority here are some things that many people find important.

Windshield Leak fixes

Style. This is important to a child, well all of us really. So the metal must be bent to appeal in some fashion to the beholder. And the flash and dash aspects are also important but run up the price so be wary. A friend researched a VW Tiguan because it had an initial low starting price point but quickly went sky high for that class of vehicle. 

Next go to a book store and buy a readily available price and option book that lists all the optional equipment, body styles and so forth. Then go to your friendly dealer and get a wish book, translated, a brochere. Do this for all the vehicles you are interested in. Next click on the manufacturers web site and click on "Build and Price" and run a few thousand combo's of model, price and equipment until you find the best possible combination for you. Next there are sites that tell you what factory rebates are available at this time including factory to dealer incentives. Armed with all this go to a dealers lot and browse. Important your first forays should be when the business is closed so you can look at your leisure. All makes have slow movers and incentives to move these and free equipment to get business rolling on a particular model or they just sometimes give special deals if equipment is purchased in conjunction with other items. Compare the stickers and look for free optional equipment. Pay attention to the EPA ratings on mileage although are notoriously over stated as to what mileage you can expect. But they can give you a range. Since this is for a child traveling pay attention to safety. Lots of airbags for sure. And since it is an SUV there is one other little quirk. Generally a body on frame construction with a rear wheel drive SUV is safer and far more likely to sustain less damage in a collision that the new unibody, front drive models. But here is the caveat. They can be thirsty. And that is the reason few of these are still around. But this is your child. Some body on frame models still out there are the Jeep Liberty (now discontinued however some dealers still have new 2012 models), Dodge Nitro, Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Xterra. All these are built on some version of the manufacturers midsize truck chassis so they tow and haul. The front drive models will give better mileage and are much more prevelent and available.

Top speed on an odometerAlright you now probably know more than the average sales person so you're ready for the anticipated hand to hand combat in the showroom. Finding the perfect vehicle unless you order it is almost impossible so prioritize what you are willing to compromise on. Dress comfortably because this may take awhile. And understand that regardless of what you may have heard, Joey the auto salesperson is no more than little Joey down the street. No better or worse but he has to produce profit for the store or he's an appliance salesperson next. He will ask you a qualifying question. What are you currently driving but what he is really asking you is "what are you trying to trade or unload on us today?"  Best answer to this is I drive several vehicles, none of which I anticipate trading. Because they are trained to not get serious about price or negotiate if you have a trade since they are going to attempt to hide some of the discount you are going to demand in the trade over-allowance. As in your vehicle appraises for $4000 but they show you $6000 (a $1000 discount plus a $1000 factory rebate) which is included. Ask immediately to see the latest (check the date) factory notification on any rebates and incentives that the factory has out. Look for the termination date and any restrictions. If there is factory to dealer cash you will want to ask for that as well when you get down to dollars and cents. Also ask for any discontinued model year end closeouts. Sit in the car, and make sure  it has great visibility, the features and controls are handy and the electronics gizmo's are current (big to a younger person). Storage is important. Ask about the warrenty although most are similar and don't fall for the extended thingy later. Cars last these days if serviced. Ask about any required maintenence to keep the warrenty in effect. An old Indian trick, with apologies to Indians everywhere, to get you into the shop and make some money off your service needs.  A short spin should settle you down as to the handling and so forth. Don't get all bent out of shape over the reliability aspects, most vehicles are close to the same anymore with component sharing rampant. THEY MOSTLY ALL BUY FROM THE SAME SUPPLIERS! But do ask to see what ever trade in guide they use and compare resale values. In doing all this you have taken control of the situation and that is the first thing sales people attempt to do is establish control. He or she who controls wins.

After you have decided on the vehicle then ask to go inside and see what we have. Don't allow the sales person to say that as it gives him or her the feeling that they are back in control of the transaction. Kick back and ask for the dealer's invoice from the factory. Don't believe the old adage about all these different levels of invoices and do try to be fair. Important point here. Many sales people will return with a computer read out! Baloney! Let me see the invoice from the manufacturer. and you will recognize it when you see it. Lots of seemingly inane terminology, numbers, shipping info, retail and wholesale pricing and so forth. Make sure the serial number matches that of the vehicle you are negotiating on. It has happened that sales people will run a ringer by you on something that has more equipment and therefore has a higher invoice.

Now to the offer. You have the auto dealers cost at hand (remember most new vehicles have what they call a hold back of 3% figured in). Offer that LESS any factory to dealer cash and less any factory to customer cash rebate. Hold firm. If you do in most cases you have bought yourself a vehicle. And paid a fair price. The car dealer gets 3% of the sticker profit or $900. on a $30,000 vehicle. AND if you have got a trade, by all means WHIP IT ON HIM AT THIS POINT. Get off the hook by making a call "to the wife or husband" and tell the sales person "my spouse says ok but I must get rid of one of my hoopties" and shut up. This way you will know what they are giving you for your trade. One last thing, don't go for any more than say, a $300. make ready charge or whatever it is that they are calling the last ripoff of the day. You must pay this as the state attorney general says if they charge one they must charge all customers and they can't remove it.

Fresno Used Car Dealerships
Paul Blanco's Good Car Company - 3 locations to serve you
Sacramento - Stockton - Fresno (Shown Here)

One last tip. Go to a reputable real used car dealer like Paul Blanco's Good Car Company and see what the vehicle you are purchasing is selling for a couple or three years old. The sales people there will be glad to assist you. They are used to being a sounding post and are very helpful. Good luck!

Frank Creech | The Auto Guru