New Brunswick — As used car prices climb to record highs, dealerships are getting creative to stay ahead of the competition.
Alex Gilbert, Vehicle Manager at Jim Gilbert’s Wheels and Deals, has struggled for months to keep their usual level of inventory.
“It’s dog eat dog. The auctions have dried up, there’s very few trade-ins, and dealerships just don’t have the turnover they used to. Out of pure frustration, I turned to my cousin Steve in Minto for advice.”
We tracked down cousin Steve at his home office, the window seat at the local Tim Hortons, as he poured over his spreadsheet of “lost and found” ATV parts, catalytic converters and bicycles.
“Think smarter, not harder,” he told us. “The cars aren’t going to find you, so you need to find the cars. I’m talking funerals, nursing homes, Service New Brunswick for failed drivers tests, optometrists for failed eye exams. If you can find me a doctor’s note or a death certificate, I can find you a car.
“I’m a cheetah, and that recent widow with glaucoma is a gazelle. A gazelle with a 10-year-old Corolla with under 100,000 kilometres, and a clean CarFax. Now watch me pounce.”
The shortage of vehicles has also presented a unique opportunity for families to offset the financial strain of losing a loved one. In exchange for a generous donation toward the cost of a funeral, dealerships will display advertising on obituaries and church bulletins, while relieving families of the complicated burden of a private vehicle sale.
Business owners have been quick to defend their right to spice things up, and don’t see a problem with the ads.
“Don’t think of it as shady marketing,” said Hogg Funeral Services owner Bruce Hogg. “Think of it as our beautiful hearse informing a captive elderly audience about World Class Auto’s low low financing rates and generous trade-in allowance, adorned with a Wacky Waving Inflatable Tube Man. I know it’s what I would want for my loved one.”