Thursday, April 18, 2024

At the dealership, working to ‘build relationships’: A Business Conversation with Lawrence Ennis

Longtime car salesman and community booster Lawrence Ennis of Chapman Warm Springs shares some of the ins and outs of buying a car.

by Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud

Lawrence Ennis

Where do most people go wrong when they decide to purchase a car?

Some consumers allow their car-buying decisions to become emotional rather than rational. It is wise to discuss your car purchase with your family before arriving at the dealership. One needs to discuss what is affordable, and what is realistic for the budget. Be candid with the salespeople, and tell them what you are capable of buying. Make them accommodate you, instead of you trying to accommodate the salesperson.

Should we bring the whole family to the dealership when we want to buy a car?

If it is a family unit, the purchasing of the car is like an election. In a democracy, everyone gets a vote. So it is probably better to have all the decision-making parties there at one time.

How should people deal with salespeople who rush up to them as soon as they arrive at the dealership?

Given the available technology, you can now go online to see what most dealers have in their inventory, and you can also select the sales associate you would like to do business with prior to arriving at the dealership. When you arrive at the dealership, you can ask for your sales representative by name — and it completely changes the purchasing experience.

Longtime car salesman and community booster Lawrence Ennis of Chapman Warm Springs

Do you have to have good credit to buy a car? Are there any financial loopholes that most consumers are unaware of?

All car dealerships are aware of the housing crisis and recession — which has affected almost everyone. Most lenders understand that millions of people have been affected, and (some things are) beyond their financial control. So if you have a means for paying for a car, there is probably a lender available to accommodate you — regardless of your credit circumstances.

Is there a gender gap between men and women when buying a car?

Many years ago I would have said there was a gender gap — but I don’t think that any longer, because 75 percent of my customers are female. They have financial parameters set, and know what they are looking for. A long time ago, I thought women were victimized by how they were approached at dealerships. Now … this is no longer my belief. Most car salesmen treat women respectfully.

Should we disclose to car salesmen that we are going to use a co-signer when we make a purchase?

Yes, preferably. A car salesman needs to know if you will be using a co-signer for your car purchase. Typically, we understand that a co-signer has to be used when someone does not have established credit.

Is cash still king when purchasing a car, and is there more room to negotiate sale prices?

There is always room to negotiate price when buying a car. None of the numbers are etched in stone. One of the biggest misconceptions in purchasing a car or any major purchase is that dollar bills speak louder than credit. The truth of the matter is that all deals are cash purchases for dealerships. Either the consumer, the bank, or a third-party financial source writes the check to the dealership — it’s all considered a cash transaction.

Is it good to buy a warranty that is offered by the dealership or auto manufacturer?

It is on a case-by-case basis. If you are purchasing a new car, and your purchasing history says that you do so every three to four years, then an extended warranty from the dealership is not necessary. If your intention is to keep the car for an extended period of time, then you should consider an extended warranty agreement.

Is it better to buy a car or lease one?

There are advantages to both. Personally I have done both. If your intent is to turn over your vehicle or sell it at some point, then leasing is a good course of action. It allows you to lease more vehicles for less money per month. But there are some limitations. If you are purchasing a car for a life, than a lifetime car warranty is appropriate.

If I come into your dealership and ask for Lawrence Ennis, what can I expect?

There lies the advantage of what it is I do. I have been extraordinarily blessed, and most of my sales are essentially word-of-mouth or repeat customers. My intent is to not sell person a car, it is to sell my clients all of their cars. I want totreat everyone accordingly. I have sales associates that are instructed to not necessarily sell cars, but build relationships. Selling cars is a byproduct of building relationships.

For more information visit, or call (702) 338-5900.

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