After visiting about 10 smaller independent dealers in search of a used Dodge Caravan, we decided to give Carter Dodge a try. Originally, I called in to see if a vehicle posted on the internet was still available and spoke with a salesperson named Walter who was eager to take ownership and advised me to request him specifically when my girlfriend and I arrived at Carter Dodge.
Upon arrival, we didn't really get the warmest of welcomes (I think it's because we dress so "young" and casual) and after asking for Walter, we were promptly referred to Walter's partner Gerry and inquired about the vehicle in question (a 2008 Dodge Caravan with approx. 120000 km). Gerry was friendly from the onset, offering coffee and cracking jokes as we made our way down to the vehicle. He allowed us to inspect a couple of options in our price range and immediately drove us around in the vehicle we inquired about originally so we could get a feel for how it drives.
After returning from the short trip, my girlfriend and I were strongly considering the vehicle and even asked Gerry to talk about it outside alone. While we were discussing, Gerry rushed outside and informed us that this vehicle had damage declarations on it (a major sticking point for us). Although I was disappointed our search for a vehicle would have to keep going, I did interpret Gerry's quick disclosure as a good sign that he would be forthright with us about everything. Gerry invited us to his desk so we could explore other options.
During this "consultation" Gerry uncovered the real reason we were set on a used caravan and the budget we had in mind. He gave solid advice tailored to our situation and opened our eyes to the fact that initial sticker price isn't everything and what we need to ensure is that we pay the least for the life of the vehicle ie. buying a cheaper 2008 may cost us more in the long run than paying a little more for a 2010 with less km. Suffice to say, his advice piqued our interest and when he gave us a call shortly after we walked out of the dealership to inform us that he thought he found the right vehicle for us we arranged a meeting to see him again in the next couple of days.
The first thing Gerry did was he set-up some temporary license plates for us and got us in the caravan to test-drive it. He told us to take our time, drive around and even go to Tim Horton's if we wanted. So after a smooth ride and comparing this particular vehicle with the countless others we had seen, we knew that this was the one for us. We got all the paperwork together and sat down with the finance manager to arrange payment (we were hoping to pay via wire).
*This is the point where Gerry's true commitment to his customers and to the 40+ years reputation of Carter Dodge shined through.*
So after letting the decision marinate for a while and discussing the deal with colleagues at work who have more experience with cars and car dealerships, I started feeling a little bit of buyer's remorse and almost like I got "taken for a ride". Based on the recommendation of my close friend, I called Gerry back asking if I could take the vehicle for an independent inspection just to ensure everything was in order. I won't lie, I was expecting resistance and for him to quickly dismiss the request, but instead he responded with "You do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable, just let me know in advance when you're picking up the car so I can get everything set up". (it turned out that at this very moment, another dealership who we were talking to called with a vehicle that met our requirements BUT they would not permit independent vehicle inspection).
The inspection was completed at a shop down the road and Gerry committed to doing everything listed there related to safety, plus threw in a couple of extras to ensure I felt like we got the best deal we could. And in all honesty, even if we didn't, I know we got the best salesperson we could. Gerry was fully transparent from the beginning, had nothing to hide and most important of all, he based his advice and actions on what was most important to us. Another selling point was that Gerry said that this whole thing was not just one transaction, but instead the start of a relationship which we could leverage whenever we needed extras for the van such as new tires, a snowboard rack or even graphic design if we wanted to use for business like we mentioned (all at a discount). Finally, back to that reference of not being welcomed warmly, I would like to point out that Gerry prides himself in giving everyone a fair shake from the beginning, especially the young people as he knows that we can bring long-term business, referrals and loyalty like no other demographic.
That said, if you're in the market for a Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep and want a straight shooting, tell-it-like-it-is salesperson who will make you laugh and ultimately find the right vehicle for you at the right price, then go to Carter Dodge and ask for Gerry!