Ask not what you can do for a new car (pay for it), ask what can a new car can do for you. None of the four car dealers contacted – three for new cars, and one for used cars – could explain why Cape’s Cod’s U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, is never part of a Cape Cod President’s Day Car sale.
Every February, Washington and Lincoln get all the work.
But beyond this quirk of marketing, it was clear that President’s Day Car sales on Cape Cod are manufacturer-driven, and, in the words of Gary Beard, owner of Beard Chevrolet / Subaru, “It absolutely works. Winter is the slowest time of the year.”
“It’s a kickstarter for the current year,” said Tony Provost, owner of Nissan of Bourne.
Creighton Morris, a lot attendant for Cape Motors, which sells used cars, said, “It’s a new car kind of thing. We don’t see the results until after the trades come in.”
“It was started by Peter Fuller Oldsmobile in Boston decades ago,” said Beard. “He’s not around any more, and neither is Oldsmobile.” President’s Day car sales “certainly caught on,” he said. “It caused everybody else to say, we’re going to be running a promotion as well.”
Although it originated in New England, it has become a nationwide event. “Originally, I’m from Hawaii and they have the same thing going out out there,” said Mark Caliri, general manager of Balise Ford.
“The factories gear up, “ said Caliri. “The TV is loaded with car and incentives. The dealers are going to follow the manufacturers.”
In fact, said Caliri, the promotions work so well that, “Some people have a tendency to wait, because the previous weekend is always so slow. And people are off on the weekend into Monday. They’ve been seeing TV ads about killer deals on new vehicles.”
Provost said, “I think the extreme days are over. Everyone is so aware. We do a lot of our business now over the phone or the Internet.” In fact, he said Nissan is focusing its marketing on what it called a “Nissan Now Event” that lasts the entire month of February.
Caliri offered these words of advice to consumer: “The incentives offered by the manufacturer are real and then when it’s over, it’s really over. So if you are thinking of buying a car, this is the weekend to do it.”
And Morris, who will be looking for the trade-ins that come out of this weekend, said, “The whole business model has changed. The whole new car business has turned into service more than sales.”
Leasing, more than buying is encouraged, he said. The low-mileage once-leased cars are then resold by the dealers, said Morris. “The money is all in service. How many bins does a service garage have at a dealership now?”
The former owner of Cape Motors “used to spend this entire weekend at a new car dealership appraising used cars as they came in the door.”
But now, Morris said, “Leasing gives them control over the car.”
Manufacturers know that the low payments of leasing are enticing a new car are enticing, said Morris, who added, “It’s all hearts and roses until you bring the car in over the mileage or with a scuff on the seat, or something like that.”
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