Used car dealerships and the buy-here pay-here industry have always had a reputation of being a little shady or maybe not real honest.
But being in the business, I know a lot of car dealers that are not like that. I don't have that impression from all of the dealers that I know. Of course, there's some bad apples in every bunch.
But most car dealers – especially in the buy-here, pay-here business -- are trying to help people who have bad credit or no credit. We help them get started on their first-time car or help them through a patch where they’ve developed some bad credit but they need transportation; so we try to get them into a vehicle.
At Russell Smith Auto, we’re real transparent about what we do and what we sell. We don’t have any customers who come in and look at us sideways that we have to win over because we have such a great reputation. Customers come to us because of their bad credit. They're just hoping to get approved. A lot of our customers just need a vehicle. They need to get to work; they need to get from work to school and school to pick up kids or whatever they need to do.
It’s important for them to get into a vehicle that's reliable that they can get into pretty quickly and easily. Their car may have broken down the day before so they need to get into one right away.
Typically our customers come to us for our in-house financing. We’ve built trust in our community, and people come to us for help.
Another thing we do that builds trust is that we offer a warranty for six months or 6,000 miles, (with a $100 deductible) whichever comes first. This is pretty rare in the used car business. Our warranty covers the engine, transmission, starter, alternator and water pump, and is designed to give our customers a good feeling about buying the vehicle. They know that they're going to be covered and taken care of if something happened within that timeframe.
With the $100 deductible, that's all they would have to pay. We do all our warranty work in-house. So if something goes wrong – we know they need their car -- we try to get them in, get the work done, and get them back on the road as soon as soon as possible.
Also if there's something not covered by the warranty or that warranty period has ended, we do have our own garage. We can give them an estimate of what it would take to repair whatever needs to be repaired. And we offer payment arrangements like a side note. We ask them to put a little bit down that they can afford and then we spread that out with their payments – usually a small payment that they can afford with their regular car payment to pay that repair off with no interest.
The repair payment is separate from the car payment. We like to keep the repair payment low enough so that doesn't put them over their budget. We really do care about our customers and keeping them on the road in a reliable and safe vehicle.