Wichita-area consumers look to cash in on auto dealers’ year-end push

Davis-Moore salesman Carl Sheel points out details of a Chrysler van to customer Linda Mitchell on Saturday morning.
Davis-Moore salesman Carl Sheel points out details of a Chrysler van to customer Linda Mitchell on Saturday morning. Correspondent

Jay Clymer stopped in at Davis-Moore Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram on Saturday morning to have his vehicle serviced.

By 10:30 a.m., he had started the process to buy a 2014 Dodge Ram pickup.

“I wanted to see what they could do on a year-end deal,” Clymer, of Clearwater, said.

Area auto dealers were expecting this final weekend of 2014 to be busier than most.

It’s almost the end of the year, and dealers and automakers want to clear as much of their 2014 stock off their books by Dec. 31.

And consumers such as Clymer, an oilfield sales representative, know this.

“I’ve got a feeling they want to get their product moved,” he said, adding that the last time he bought a new truck was “two years ago, almost to the day.”

Davis-Moore vice president Sean Tarbell said the six days following Christmas are “always a big week for us.”

“There are times we’ll sell almost as many cars between Christmas and New Year’s as we do the first 24 days of the month,” he said. “I think people know … (dealerships) are trying to close out the year, maybe do a deal that other times wouldn’t make sense.”

Scott Hatchett, managing partner of Scholfield Buick GMC and Scholfield Hyundai, said the six-day period can account for 30 to 40 percent of his dealerships’ business for all of December.

“Our biggest months are typically in the summer,” Hatchett said. “Out of the winter months (December) is probably the only one comparable, and it really is because of this year-end push.”

The year-end push generally comprises enhanced rebates and special finance and lease offers, Hatchett said.

He said year-end deals by automakers are among the best deals consumers can get all year.

“It really is,” Hatchett said. “The manufacturers want their year-end numbers to look good, and from a private business standpoint, we want our year-end to look good, too.”

Clymer, the Davis-Moore customer, said he was expecting to get more money for his trade-in as well as a better rebate on the truck he planned to buy.

Les Eck, owner of Rusty Eck Ford, said there are times throughout the year that automakers offer stronger-than-normal incentives, and “after Christmas is one of those times that factories push hard.”

But “consumers are out in the shopping mood, the buying mood,” he said. “It’s a good time.”

It helps that a lot of people are taking time off from work for the holidays, dealers said.

Plus, Eck said, “a lot of people get Christmas bonuses, Christmas cash.”

Dealers help to augment the mood and the automakers’ offers this time of year, too. “We market heavier,” Eck said. “We’re just like retailers: we want to move our merchandise before the end of the year.”

Dealers such as Davis-Moore make sure all their employees are available to work this time of the year, Tarbell said. “We don’t let anybody take any vacation.”

“I would say it’s our busiest week of the year,” Tarbell added.

Not everyone looking to buy a car between now and New Year’s is doing so to take advantage of special offers.

Linda Mitchell of Wichita was at Davis-Moore on Saturday to buy a Dodge Caravan or Chrysler Town & Country because her less-than-year-old car was totaled in a wreck a couple of weeks ago.

The special deals are nice this time of year, she said, but she thinks that if a dealer is honest and willing to work with a customer, a good deal can be had any time of the year.

“It doesn’t matter, the time of year,” Mitchell said. “Like I said, it’s not my choice (to be buying right now).”

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jsiebenmark.