Donohoo’s Classic Car Collection

 

We have had some pretty unique cars over the years. Here is a collection of some of our more unusual ones.

03 Ford Thunderbird2002 Ford Thunderbird

In 2002 Ford reintroduced the Thunderbird after a four year absence. They based their redesign on the iconic ’55-’57 T-Birds. Our ’03 model didn’t stay in our inventory for long. The silky-smooth DOHC V8 and iconic styling basically sold itself.

 

1978 Datsun 280z78 Datsun 280Z

Datsun was a struggling manufacturer when they first entered the US market. It wasn’t until much later when it became Datsun Nissan and eventually just Nissan that the brand really took root in US soil. One of Datsun’s few successes was in Z series. In 1970 the Z was introduced. The styling was based after the Ferrari GTO with a Jaguar E-type inspired nose. While not wholly original, enthusiasts of the car can understand the subtle sport styling. Fast forward to 1978, the Z has a 2.8L SOHC six fuel injected engine. ’78 was also the first year AM/FM radio was standard. We ended up shipping this one up to the great state of West Virginia.

Jaguar XJ8 Side2002 Jaguar XJ8

The Jaguar XJ8 is a powerful luxury sedan with a roaring 4.0L V8 engine capable of 286 horsepower. While the exterior is dated, some would say it’s a call back to a classier look. It is hard to deny the smooth lines and hidden power behind Jaguar’s design.

 

1995 Ford Broncooj-car-chase

The ’95 Ford Bronco was made famous…er infamous…by O.J. Simpson. We wonder if our Bronco delivered as smooth a ride as the one that lead police on the fateful chase on Interstate 405. In the mid-‘90s Ford wasn’t known for their fuel efficiency and it is amazing the Bronco made it as far as it did at only 18 MPG highway.94 Ford Bronco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1978 Chrysler Cordoba

Ah the 1978 Chrysler Cordoba. Nothing captures the luxury of the Cordoba like saying Soft Corinthian Leather with a heavy accent. If you don’t believe me check out this video below. We ended up selling this to a guy all the way in Saudi Arabia. No lie. That leather must have been magical.

1984 Chevrolet C10Chevy C10

Chevrolet, a well-known producer of domestic trucks, has been manufacturing versions of the half-ton truck since 1918. In 1984, Chevy’s half-ton two-wheel-drive truck was labeled the C10. Chevy used this designation on Chevy trucks until 1999. While ours might not have been showroom ready, even in its advanced age and mileage it could still put in a full day’s work. That’s Chevy’s commitment to quality.

2003 Infiniti 35

03 G35Infiniti has become a staple in our inventory in recent years. Their styling is often different than Mercedes or BMW’s but they have been turning heads ever since 2003. ’03 was the first year Infiniti produced the G35. The G saw a short life span of just over 10 years. Infiniti has decided to rename all of their Sedans and Coupes with a prefix of Q. Some people, me included, think it is odd for them to do this but what do I know. It could payoff.

 

1984 Toyota Pickup

Toyota PickupWhat is there to say about the Toyota Pickup? It works. Fuel efficient and reliable to boot the Pickup helped solidify Toyota in the US market. Ours was not the prettiest of trucks, but even decades after it rolled of the production line the truck still performed when asked to.

Why We Think the Donohoo Way is the Better Way

What are you expectations when you drive or walk into a dealership?

In years past the Hawk scenario was all you could expect. Imagine a hawk sitting from its perch watching the mouse wander around. When the hawk feels the time is right, it swoops down for the kill. It has some eerie similarities to an old school dealership approach. You drive onto the car lot and begin looking around. The sales guy waits, poised to swoop in for the kill.Hawk

A quote from Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Rose sums up the old school of thought best, “A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing. ALWAYS BE CLOSING… A guy don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy. They’re sitting out there waiting to give you their money. Are you gonna take it? Are you man enough to take it? What’s the problem, pal?”

No wonder the act of buying a car and the role of sales people had a negative stigma for so many years. No one likes feeling like the mouse being eyed by a hawk. It’s uncomfortable.

The automotive industry as a whole has been slow to change. I am sure it is not too hard to find a dealership that still uses Glengarry Glen Rose as a training video for sales. In contrast to the old way, we do it the DonohooAuto way, the way we want to be treated if the roles were reversed.

So what is the DonohooAuto way?

We built our way around 8 common principles every consumer wants:

Involvement – You want us to care about your needs.

Speed – You want the sale to fit within your busy schedule, your time is valuable.

Availability – You want someone to be there whenever you have a question.

Courtesy – You expect professional and courteous sales professionals.

Transparency – You want important information about the car communicated to you.

Skilled Service – You expect us to be experts in our field.

Satisfaction – You want to be happy with your purchase and believe you received a fair deal.

Appreciation – You want your time and business to be appreciated.

Our process has no hawk. We have over 450 cars and we want you to be able to look at them as long as you need to without any pressure. Everything is at your pace. If you have a question an answer is only a click or phone call away. No one will call you endlessly, pressure you to make a decision, or hassle you. We understand you will do most of your research online before you ever step foot in a dealership. Every one of our cars for sale is on our website or a multitude of third party websites. We think the quality of our transparency and disclosure on these vehicles are best in class, allowing you to feel comfortable about what you purchasing.

We are here to play matchmaker. We have a lot of cars and know a lot about them. You are looking for the perfect car. Our job is to help you find the one you are looking for.

Our appreciation for your business should be apparent in our professionalism, our desire to please, and our expedient processing and paperwork. Once you make your decision on a car, we believe you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops for it. Most customers are amazed at the speed with which we process their paperwork and get them out of the store with their newly purchased car.

Car Buying Lesson from NCAA Football

BCSarticlePicI doubt you have ever compared buying a car to the Bowl Championship Series. Surprisingly, they do share some characteristics.

The BCS rankings are a decent measure when you look at the NCAA as a whole. It isn’t until you start comparing the top 5 teams does the system show its weaknesses. The same can be said for Automotive Consumer and JD Power rankings. The top 5 cars and teams are so comparable simply using a comparison matrix is not good enough.

Last year the BCS was all kinds of messed up. If we look at Alabama’s BCS experience we see just how close everything is. Alabama lost to A&M in a heartbreaker late in the 2012 season. To keep its hopes of a national championship alive Bama needed Kansas State, Oregon, or Notre Dame to lose. In what some Alabama fans call poetic justice, both Kansas State and Oregon lost the next week. The final week saw 5 one loss teams and 1 undefeated team. Alabama got the bid and killed the number one ranked team in the nation. How does that relate to car buying?

When you are looking for a car it does help to see what the experts say. Their rankings, on the other hand, should be taken with a grain of salt. Most cars have similar technology, gas consumption, and reliability. Just like the top 5 in football the top 5 cars are all elite in their own way. The only real way of telling which car is for you is by comparing them side by side. Until you have driven every car on your list you don’t know which one is for you. The worst thing you can do is have buyer’s remorse because you didn’t compare for yourself. The key is not to end up like the 04 Auburn Tigers and sit at home wondering what if.

Take a lesson from the NCAA and implement a playoff system. It is the only way for the best team, in this case car, to wind up on top.

Games People Play

We talked about vehicle history reports a little over a year ago, and with the latest 20/20 news story about Carfax the topic has become hot again – link to 20/20 on Hulu. See the previous blog entry that discusses the phantom value of a vehicle with a clean Carfax – Show Me the Carfax.

I know Carfax and us dealers all say to inspect the vehicle on your own before buying. That is all great, but people are busy and don’t want to travel to see a vehicle they think is an awesome condition car at an awesome price, so that statement runs a little hollow to most consumers. Here are a few tricks of the trade for you consumers.

If you are looking at a website where some of the inventory has View the Free CARFAX Report, and some of the inventory has Get a CARFAX Record Check, odds are really high that the Carfax is ugly when it is not free. That is often a dealer obfuscating known information about the car.

FULL DISCLOSURE HERE. You will find on our website some vehicles with a manufacturer’s buyback branded title. The Autocheck is available, and if you click on the Carfax there is no free report, but instead you must pay for it. Not our fault. We have pleaded with Carfax to show this Carfax to our customers – we paid for it – but Carfax says they turned it off on branded titles because most dealers did not want it shown, and they cannot turn it on for just us. What does that tell you about our industry? Not something of which we would be proud as a member of the industry. Still, you can’t miss the information because it is on our site and available from the Autocheck report. A simple email to us and we will provide the Carfax report to you as well since we paid for the report and have it available to give you.

We will not smear any competitor in particular, but we checked out the Autochecks on a competitor’s inventory where a Carfax was NOT available for free (and others were available for free), and we found more often than not at least an accident reported, if not unibody/frame damage reported at the auction. In those cases you must absolutely ask the dealer “Show Me the Carfax” since you are reasonably confident they can get it to you for cheaper than you will get it yourself and you have high probability something important is in that report.

Don’t be fooled into thinking an Autocheck is better than a Carfax. They both have holes in their reporting. We have seen plenty of times where the Carfax report is ugly and the Autocheck report is spotless. We see many times the opposite. That provides opportunities for some dealerships to provide only an Autocheck, no Carfax, and buy vehicles with clean Autochecks and dirty Carfax reports. So while we have little love for the way Carfax has portrayed our industry in commercials, you should probably ask those Autocheck only dealers about a Carfax report or purchase the Carfax report on your own. Carfax does provide lots of quality information on vehicle history.

Carfax has an exclusive agreement with Cars.com and AutoTrader, so if you shop there and run across a car with only a Carfax, that is not our choice. You will need to come directly to our website to see the Autocheck report we are providing to consumers.

Do we have lots of vehicles with original paint and squeaky clean Carfax and Autocheck reports? Absolutely. But I have seen some minor damage on Carfax versions of the same cars and liked the minor damage car way, way better. Why? The paint work was done very well and was unnoticeable, and the interior was immaculate. And some of those perfect Carfax/Autocheck report cars do have blemishes. What was the difference many times? The Carfax accident car had a police report when the damage occurred on a public street. The perfect Carfax/Autocheck report had the same damage in a driveway of someone’s home. And even better, the Carfax accident car is $1500 cheaper – for the same car! And all because of a report.

So what is the summary of all of this?

1) Be wary of vehicles without free Carfax reports (and with no Autocheck report) on a dealer website where other vehicles do have free Carfax reports.
2) Seeing both Autocheck and Carfax reports on a vehicle does not eliminate, but does greatly reduce your odds of buying a vehicle without knowing about previous damage or accidents.
3) Even if accidents exist, don’t treat it as a Scarlet A for the car. Accident does not always mean the car was crushed. The spectrum is hugely wide.
4) Cars.com and Autotrader have locked out Autocheck from their websites due to an exclusive deal with Carfax. Autocheck is available on our website for our vehicles.
5) You can’t outsource doing a good job of shopping to third party reports. Email the dealer with questions about items of concern. We love when customers educate themselves about what they are purchasing.

-PD

How Do I Get a Decent Set of Reviews on a Dealership?

There are lots of websites with reviews on businesses, and in the end, the best place to examine reviews is where the volume of reviews is highest since it probably represents the overall experience with the business better than a small sample of reviews. Better yet, ask your friends, family and co-workers about dealership experiences, call the dealership and ask some pointed questions or visit the dealership yourself. We have become quite familiar with the review sites as we attempt to monitor what customers are saying about us. Here is a quick rundown of the major ones and our insider thoughts.

DealerRater

We prefer this one. First, DealerRater requires a user login to post a review. Second, DealerRater forbids reviews from the dealership’s IP address and hammers any dealer it finds posting false reviews about its dealership (employees up to no good). Third, all negative reviews with certified DealerRater dealerships have a minimal interaction requirement by the customer so dealerships know the customer is legitimate and not a competitor attacking the business. You can’t leave a poor review and disappear off the face of the earth. By and large, the scores of the reviews on DealerRater are a little higher because negative reviews are first brought to the attention of the dealership to give the dealership and the customer an opportunity to resolve whatever disappointed the customer.

Don’t think this is just a pro-dealer site. We have been slaughtered in some reviews on DealerRater, but at least in those cases we knew we deserved it. The other bonus from reviewing dealers on this site is that you are really confident the dealer will see it and get a chance to resolve your complaint.

http://www.dealerrater.com/company/overview.aspx

Google Reviews on the Places Page

Google reviews drive us crazy. The enhancement where Google now requires a Google Plus account to leave a review is a huge improvement. I have looked at some dealerships and really questioned the legitimacy of those past reviews. You can tell just by reading them. I think many of them were created by people associated with the dealership or by outside companies in an effort to boost the review score. Dealerships also get attacked by competitors on Google reviews. We have been lucky on the negative review side. There have been one or two suspicious negative reviews where we couldn’t figure out who the person was or what the person was talking about, but most of our negative reviews, while not always a fair representation of the situation (though sometimes we screwed up and they hit it on the head), are actual customers with actual complaints.

What drives us mad is that Google reviews disappear and reappear. We have crafted responses to every review, but sometimes we look at Google reviews and see none of our responses – they have disappeared.

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-maps-reviews-gone-15531.html

I think Google is headed in the right direction on Google reviews, especially by making sure reviewers have a Google Plus account to assure some level of legitimacy. I would take “A Google User” reviews with a grain of salt though not completely discount them. Read them and look for specifics that might indicate a real reviewer. The Google Plus account reviews will be more legitimate.

Better Business Bureau

A high grade with the BBB shows the customer is serious about resolving a customer’s complaints. The number of complaints is often associated with the volume of business the customer does. For instance, Carmax has 798 complaints on its BBB account. Does that make them a bad business? We don’t think so, and the BBB gives them an A+ just like us with 9 complaints. But they are significantly bigger. Likewise, a small dealership with 50 cars is going to have far fewer complaints than us since we have 400-500 cars and lots more transactions. You want to see that the dealership cares about a customer’s complaint. The BBB score is about eliminating businesses that carry higher risk. See this link for details on the BBB’s rating system. As noted in this link, the BBB accounts for size when grading the business on complaints. They will tell you on the BBB page for the business what lowers and raises that specific business’s rating.

http://www.bbb.org/business-reviews/ratings/

Cars.com

Cars.com has been beefing up its reviews on dealerships, and there is a decent sample out there for many dealerships. It is probably worth looking at it.

Yellow Pages, Citysearch, Yelp, Merchant Circle, etc.

Occasionally you will see a dealership with a lot of reviews on some of these. I have never seen a dealer with a good Merchant Circle review. I think this where people complain – or in the case of one dealer, add a really positive review and then advertise a flooring company that will work on your house. We have some poor reviews sitting out there on Merchant Circle – a few of them I would say are not true, and a couple of them we were wrong. In fact, we helped out a few of those customers that complained without it being noted after the fact or the review redacted. In addition, there hasn’t been a review there in a couple of years. So why did we bring it up? We’d rather not be accused of writing a blog entry that is dishonest. We freely admit we have made mistakes with customers over the years. We are really proud of the changes we made with each mistake to prevent those poor customer experiences from repeating. That is really all we can do. Citysearch and Yellow pages can be decent if there are enough reviews there, but with most dealerships the sample size is pretty small. Yelp is geared more towards restaurants, and we have no reviews there, but we are on Yelp.

At DonohooAuto, we have policies for our employees. No employee is to speak badly about another dealership. We would like to know if you ever hear one of our employees do so. We will correct it. No employee is to create a positive review on any review websites. If you ever see a suspicious positive review, please let us know. We want reviews to be an honest representation of varied customer experiences with us.

We are happy about how we are represented online. Mistakes we have made are out there for people to see. We make mistakes. You should probably be suspicious if there are no negative reviews. That seems unrealistic or the company hasn’t been around long enough. Length of time in business is pretty important in the used car business. We have heard about dealers shutting down bad reputation dealerships and opening back up under a different name, then repeating after the new name gets a bad reputation.

We have way more happy customers that have published reviews on their experiences. In addition, our own feedback mechanisms where we actively solicit feedback from our customers tell us we have lots of happy customers. We survey and call our customers after they purchase. We want to know how we did. We love feedback – positive or negative. And we have turned many a negative customer experience into a positive one by soliciting feedback and addressing the concern.

One of our key initiatives is excellent disclosures about vehicle history. We provide both Carfax and Autocheck and even make customers aware of paintwork that no other dealer would bother disclosing – of course most paintwork issues are merely cosmetic and inconsequential to the value of the car – that’s another blog entry. We have improved our disclosures consistently every year we have been in business, and we think that helps minimize poor reviews and makes for satisfied customers.

Here are some helpful articles about reviews. We hope this blog entry helps you in your next vehicle purchase.

Here are some links to some good articles about reviews.

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/249770/yelp_alternatives_which_user_review_services_matter.html

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/10/06/7-ways-to-spot-fake-online-reviews/

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/technology/finding-fake-reviews-online.html

-PD

“Tails in the Trails” Presented by DonohooAuto!

We’re proud to be a part of the Birmingham Zoo Junior Board’s second annual “Tails in the Trails”. The Birmingham Zoo’s Junior Board will hold this spring event May 17th from 5:30 to 9pm in Trails of Africa and this great event benefit’s the Zoo’s summer camps for children in need.

Guests can enjoy live music, food, cocktails and animal encounters while viewing the elephants on exhibit. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. To purchase tickets call 205-879-0409.

We hope you’ll come join us in supporting a good cause while having a good time!

Join us in supporting the JLB’s Annual Bargain Carousel!

DonohooAuto is proud to partner with the Junior League of Birmingham for the second year in a row as a Bargain Carousel sponsor.  You can help the JLB support their community projects by attending Bargain Bash on Thursday or by shopping the sale on Saturday and Sunday at the old Mazer’s location (816 Greensprings Hwy in Homewood).

The Junior League of Birmingham is celebrating 90 years of community service. Help them continue to provide outstanding programs to the Birmingham metro area women and children. DonohooAuto is proud to sponsor Bargain Carousel again this year.

Show Me the CARFAX!

Okay people, I get it, you want a clean CARFAX to accompany that beautiful pre-owned vehicle you are buying. You want the prized certificate to guard you from the evils of the frowning CARFOX swiveling that furry finger at you in disapproval. Oh my goodness!! There is an exclamation point inside an upside down red triangle, I can’t buy this car… this data collection source has stamped its scarlet A on it. Who cares about the quality of the car or the professional grade, I want to see “no accidents” next to the accident history. Then we can all be free of sin and guilt. The all holy franchised dealers of the world can continue to tell us they would never sell such an awful product. Oh, by the way, their (franchised dealer) car is $29,995 and the one with the CARFAX accident is $25,995. So where is the $4,000 discrepancy? Oh no, please don’t tell me I am paying $4,000 more for a piece of paper with a cute animal on it that says this car is accident free, lemon free… Well, you get the point.

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Youth First Holiday Toy Drive

Imagine a Christmas with no gifts under the tree. For many families in our area, that is harsh reality. But you can help bring the spirit of giving to a child in need this Christmas! This year, DonohooAuto is partnering with CBS42 to sponsor the Birmingham Division of Youth Services “Youth First” Holiday Toy Drive. From now until Decemeber 12th, you can help make this Christmas a merry one for the children of the Birmingham community. Just bring a NEW, UNWRAPPED TOY to DonohooAuto before December 12th.