Cars and Credit stands out among all the other dealerships in Cleveland, Tennessee in part because it’s easier for people to get qualified to buy a vehicle.
I’m not going to tell somebody over the phone they’re approved and that they’re going to drive off with $100 down without going through the actual qualification process. What I understand is that other dealerships on our community tell people going to drive off with a very low down payment but they haven’t even checked the person’s credit score or gone through the application process.
One difference between us and them is that we go through the pre-qualification process first, and then have them look at the vehicles they can afford, not look at any vehicle and lead them to think they’re going to get into something that doesn’t fit their budget.
We also have the lowest interest rate in town. Ours is 18.95%. Everybody else starts at 20, 22, 24, or 25 percent. That makes a difference when it comes to affording and making those monthly payments.
We’ll match customers to vehicles that fit their needs, lifestyle, and budget.
If they haven’t pre-qualified over the phone or online, whenthey come in, they give us their driver’s license. We ask a few simple questions such as: how long they’ve been at their job, how long they’ve been living at their residence, kind of do a little budget to see how much money they’re spending on their bills, and do a debt-to-income ratio. They also need to bring in two pieces of ID, six referrals with contact information, two paycheck stubs, and mail with their address on it.
Based on the debt-to-income ratio and mini budget, we decide what they can afford. We also see how much money they have to put down. Then we match them to the vehicles that they can afford. Payments are set up for however they get paid: weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly or monthly.
We’re not going to over-exceed their budget by putting them into something we know they’re not going to be able to make payments on, because at the end of it we’ll end up repo’ing it, or they’re going to default because they’re not going to be able to afford the vehicle.
Some people think thatused car and buy-here pay-here dealerships are just in business to give them a car and then repossess it and that’s how we make money.
The fact is that if we repo’ the vehicle, they’re not paying for the vehicle—we’re not going to get paid for it—so that doesn’t do us any good. We want to keep our customers in a vehicle and get them to pay it off and earn their business again when they need another one. Repossessing the vehicle also ruins the relationship.
Another thing that makes us different is that we consider all of our customers like family. We work with them to succeed and are happy when they do.
We have a customer who could probably go buy a brand new car at a new car dealership, but he’s been buying from us since the doors opened. Right now he owes about $600, and we’re looking for his next vehicle.
The relationships we have with our customers keep them coming back to us. That family thing—friendship--that makes us unique. Once customers are here, they get to know us, and they know how we work. They don’t usually leave, they just keep coming back. We’re just family.